BioShock creator saddened by Mass Effect 3 controversy

Ken Levine calls fallout an "important moment" for industry, says fans will be "very disappointed" if BioWare decides to write new ending.

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BioShock creator and Irrational Games founder Ken Levine is saddened by the Mass Effect 3 ending controversy. Speaking at the Smithsonian's "Art of Video Games" exhibit last weekend (attended by Vox Games), the longtime designer called the situation "an important moment" for the industry.

The Mass Effect 3 ending controversy doesn't sit well with Levine.

Levine said fans will be let down if BioWare decides to craft a different ending to Mass Effect 3. He added that if the studio does design an alternate ending, neither BioWare nor fans will be satisfied.

"I think if those people got what they wanted and [BioWare] wrote their ending they would be very disappointed in the emotional feeling they got because…they didn't really create it," he said. "I think this whole thing is making me a little bit sad because I don't think anyone would get what they wanted if that happened."

BioWare-Mythic senior creative director Paul Barnett was also in attendance at the event. He said authors of artwork should have total control over their creations, referencing J.K. Rowling and the conclusion to the Harry Potter saga.

"If computer games are art then I fully endorse the author of the artwork to have a statement about what they believe should happen," Barnett said. "Just as J.K. Rowling can end her books and say that is the end of Harry Potter. I don't think she should be forced to make another one."

Since Mass Effect 3 shipped earlier this month, BioWare has been busy addressing fan concerns regarding the game's ending. Executive producer Casey Hudson said last week that he wanted the conclusion to be memorable and to get gamers talking.

And just this week, BioWare said it was considering changing the Mass Effect 3 ending. The developer said it is "seriously taking all player feedback into consideration and have ruled nothing out," regarding amending the Mass Effect 3 ending.

On top of that, Members of the Mass Effect community have formed the charity petition called Retake Mass Effect ChipIn fund, collecting PayPal donations for the Child's Play charity as a way of encouraging BioWare to make alternate Mass Effect 3 endings. As of press time, the fund has amassed over $75,000.

For more on Mass Effect 3, check out GameSpot's review.

Discussion

649 comments
Ground-Hugger
Ground-Hugger

You cannot compare ME# and Harry Potter books. Rowling's didn't tell her readers they had control of what happens in the book. Bioware  did then didn't deliver. ME3 is not artistic, paintings, sculptures, and photos are. ME3 is a commercial product designed to produce revenue for Bioware. They will not get anymore of my money! I do not buy from liars!!!

andyclass50
andyclass50

Kevin Levine has made this statement masquerading it as if he has our best interests in mind. I think that the vast majority that really care have made it quite clear that we don't approve of the ending, not because it wasn't a happy ending, but because it goes against everything they said they would do (about wildly different endings based on our choices throughout the series ...not 3 different coloured explosions). He doesn't approve, because it gives the consumers power and means that games developers can't get away with dismissive and shoddy work, just because they know the game will sell millions anyway.

bigcrusha
bigcrusha

@Gravity_Slave Sorry to break it to ya bud, I'm no troll =/ I've got a dayjob. You really should learn what a word means before using it. Troll is overused and misplaced, you should wiki it. Just because I disagree to your P.O.V. it doesn't make me a troll. You seem like a smart dude, you can read after all. It's in the terms of use, when you subscribed to this site, you made an oath to respect the site, it's contents and it's users. You're right, it's not a court of law, but moderators do exist for a reason.

Gravity_Slave
Gravity_Slave

@bigcrusha: I have respect and i do give it. But see, this isn't the American court of law where you're respected until proven disrespected. You have to earn my respect pal. Which brings me to my second point. You didn't say anything right, but i've dealt with you in the past and i know what you are. You're a troll. You jump into debates and go for the negative and will take any oppositional stance you can just to cause grief. Thats why you get no respect. Sit down. @mos2000:um, thanks...i think.

maxwell97
maxwell97

And I'm saddened by Ken Levine's hair. If artists want total control over their work, they must: A. fund its creation, marketing, and distribution entirely on their own; or B. Make it not suck. Bioware botched the ending. It's not a question of their "artistic vision," it's simply very poorly executed. You can't sell crap by calling it art (unless you're federally funded).

Spybreak
Spybreak

Hiding behind the fact that games are art, which could be debated until eternity, does nothing with this situation. I've played all the games I'm going to talk about, (Mass Effect series and Bioshock series). I favored the ending for Bioshock but did not favor Mass Effect 3's ending. The thing with Mass Effect 3 and the wholllle shebang is that it's the first ever intertwinned trilogy so yes the ending HAS to make sense in relation to the previous titles. As is it's extremely vague and has introduced more plot holes than content being successfully concluded.

stabby_mcgee
stabby_mcgee

What is it with the whole "art" argument? Just because it's art doesn't mean it's not a product that is made for a specific audience. Relic never planned to make a sequel to Homeworld but because sales were strong and demand was high, they did Homeworld 2. The test audience didn't like the original future coda ending to Terminator 2 so James Cameron shot a new one. Joss Whedon originally planned to kill Spike off in season 2 of Buffy but the character became really popular so he kept him. American publishers did not like the last chapter of "A Clockwork Orange" so they cut it. Then Kubrick went with the version without the last chapter in the movie adaptation. William Shakespeare wrote multiple versions of his plays for different audiences, I believe there are three versions of Hamlet. Very few artists have a concrete "vision" that can never be changed. Artists often tweak their work in response to audience demand or even perceived audience demand. Sometimes they change their work due to positive feedback and sometimes it's due to negative feedback. That's why movie and video game companies use focus groups, test audiences, play testers, etc.

isshiah
isshiah

it seems to me that the people who want the ending altered/explained use evidence to back their opinion. the ones who don't think it should be changed just resort to name calling.

The_Gaming_Baby
The_Gaming_Baby

I really liked the ending. I know building up an army in the end turned out to be quite pointless, but Shepard didn't know that when he was building it. Just like life, you gotta take things as they are on that day. Shepard was going to war with The Reapers and he needed the entire Galaxy behind him.

rbenns2
rbenns2

Nobody complained about Harry Potter because she gave us a great ending that provided satisfying closure. If she had Harry "go on" in the train station limbo and Voldemort emerging triumphant, people would have complained. If in LOTR, Sauron's minions caught up with Frodo and killed him, putting the ring back in Sauron's hands and plunging the world into darkness, people would have complained. If the rebels failed to destroy the second Death Star and were wiped out at the end of Return of the Jedi, people would have complained about that too. In ME 3, the Reapers win no matter what you do, therefore, people complain.

4love10
4love10

Sorry Kevin GO SCREW YOU MOM I NEVER BUY YOU GAME AND NEVER WILL

luckjon
luckjon

You pissed off your Customers, bad business move!

calum1984
calum1984

"Executive producer Casey Hudson said last week that he wanted the conclusion to be memorable and to get gamers talking." heres a problem with this statement......in a magazine interview (gameinformer i think) he clearly stated he wouldnt do this. In fact I believe he actually stated he wouldnt do a convoluted Lost style ending so...........really the customers are wrong to complain???

wallydog63
wallydog63

Sorry Kevin, but it's hard to take you seriously. Love your games, but you are speaking as a developer and not a consumer. Priorities are slightly different. Maybe this should simply be a lesson to developers and publishers both. Don't rush a game and don't take short cuts. Make sure you take the time to make it all work, and give a better ending the first time. Most games give us endings that may not always make us happy, but to give an ending that causes this much trouble is just poor judgement.

TheSnowmanSaint
TheSnowmanSaint

Meh he's just mad that consumer's and gamers are finally standing up to being ripped off. Justsayin'.

iNsaneMilesy
iNsaneMilesy

AH, BIOSHOCK! Another great game, with a great story... but with a weak sauce ending.

AfrosRockMan
AfrosRockMan

I do have to agree with Ken Levine here in the sense that games can be and often are art. However, the reason most people are pissed about ME3's ending is with regards to the fact that the ending and it's inherent themes are downright hypocritical and nonsensical compared to the rest of the series. Never mind the fact that from a business standpoint, people were promised that their choices would have a huge impact, and that there would be over a dozen endings. For the former, we don't even get to see the fruits of our labor because of the way the ending was written. (What happened to my crew? Humanity? Just everything?) And for the latter, well that didn't even happen. Even art can be falsely advertised. And in any case, false advertising (especially on this scale) is deceptive and just plain wrong.

gamerx100
gamerx100

he's in the wrong industry if he thinks video games as art because at this stage, video games are mostly products crack out by big corp and sold piece by piece (think DLC). and if ME3 is considered art, then it's really bad art-ruined by a single misplaced brush stroke at the end.

kuda001
kuda001

I just want an ending that makes sense.

nomailx
nomailx

Naaah, fans won't be disappointed. They will be glad that they finally got writers right proper stuff.

luc11044
luc11044

I'm happy I didn't pick up ME3....maybe by the time I buy it, I'll have a decent NEW ending. :)

Hubadubalubahu
Hubadubalubahu

To give someone who made an ending you didnt like more of your money to make another ending just seems insane to me. If you felt they were lazy with the ending or just plain didn't like it, what kind of message are you sending when you further fund it.

wyan_
wyan_

I agree with the sentiment in paragraph 5. We should not force Bioware to make another crappy ending.

Darth_Ultima
Darth_Ultima

Video Games are art... but they are also a product. If you make a product that you know is going to piss off your customers you have to be prepared for the backlash which Bioware was not. If you want a game to be artistic and know that it will piss off consumers, which Bioware definitely knew there ending would not be popular based on statements they made before the game came out, then they should stand by their decisions. Problem is I think the reasons they chose such an ending was shallow because they quote "wanted lots of discussion" and "for it to be memorable". Well they got what they wanted but sadly the Mass Effect fans are going to lose no matter what from this point out.

Hammershock6
Hammershock6

Since when have video games been about art? every game developer should know by now if you dont makes a game people will buy then you will go out of buisiness fast, especially if you keep up the trend. And for the most part I dont want a new ending, I do want a explanation as to wtf is happening and will happen after the mass relays are destroyed since most of it sounds to me like total disaster rather than victory, I mean the ending is like if the allies still won World War 2 except all the civilians are dead and the land is ruined so no crops can be grown. I don't think everyone will want the same ending I do but i know for sure if Bioware didnt react in some positive way to its fanbase i.e listen to its fanbase and add or change something to the game as a option for people that didnt like the ending and want to try it from a new approach, it would make things a lot worse for the company, which is what bioware is, especially since they joined EA. Tell me how that is going to ruin anything? and if you think of art Bioshock is a good game with a sensible and understandable ending especially for the type of game it is, but if you take a Beautiful piece of art and take a sh*t on it and call it art, dont expect everyone to agree with you.

Gooper_Blooper
Gooper_Blooper

(Vague spoilers for ME3 ending below - duh) I didn't play Mass Effect 3 nor any of the other games in the series, but I was wondering what all this was about so I spoiled myself on the ending. Personally, I'm with the people who aren't happy. If I was to pay sixty bucks three times, plus more for downloadable content, and I'm given a troll non-ending that tells me everything I just did was pointless, not only would I be very upset but I would probably not purchase any more of that company's games in the future. You don't jerk around your fans like that and expect to get away with it. In any case, everybody knew Bioware would make more downloadable content whether the ending was well-received or not, and the ending as written seems to make any DLC impossible due to its nature, so this thing was doomed to be retconned regardless. I don't know how anyone looked at that ending and said "Yes, this is what we want to close our series with. This is our vision." I wouldn't be surprised if they were pressed for time and came up with this at the last minute.

GreySeven
GreySeven

I agree with Ken Levine. Though I find a lot of the decisions in the story of ME3 to be... unaligned with the way I wanted it, changing it would just be worse. Players would not be satisfied, BioWare would no longer own their creativity, and BioWare would also become the b**** of the gaming industry. The fans would no longer see them as able to make their own decisions. They would be incompetent, and only able to make games based upon approval. Is that the kind of reputation BioWare needs?

Arther-la-Blunt
Arther-la-Blunt

I disagree. This game allowed players to make, probably, hundreds of choices. Then in the end there's no closure, just openness. That's stupid. I'm really disappointed.

YukoAsho
YukoAsho

@exodiatheone Mr. Levine's really into the whole storytelling in games thing. To change an ending at consumer behest delegitimizes the very idea of games as a storytelling media. You can't make a good story by committee, no matter how hard you try.

waiaung
waiaung

Shouldnt compare to J.K. Rowling. She concluded her story very well. Yah its a happy cliche ending, but everyone loves it, though we wish there's more of HarryPotter. Im not saying the ME story has to end happily ever after. There were games we've seen with sad endings and we love it, like Red Dead Redemption, FFX, etc. Unfortunately, ME3 didnt end the story properly neither sad nor happy. It just left you with a WTF moment. The ending failed to deliver the sense of accomplishment (which we gamers are after). All the hard works you’ve done, all the choices you’ve made in the past ME universe did not matter anymore. The grand ending did not even live up to the scenes of Mordin, Thane, ME2 final battle (I must say Kudos to these scenes). But all ME3 final endings were really really short and shallow. I think the final fantasy X ending is longer than the ME3 all 3 endings combined. And what happened to war assets? It all boiled down to mere numbers just to decide which ending players get. I think Fable 3 did better with the utilization of assets than ME3 did. ME3 could easily have been one of the greatest games of our lives... then it took an arrow in the knee.

nima_metal90
nima_metal90

I'm glad tht Levine playin ME but I think he's wrong about ending.

DrMatta
DrMatta

First time i disagree with Levine.

evaneself
evaneself

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

bigcrusha
bigcrusha

@Gravity_Slave Oh I do. and judging from your reply you don't have an ounce of respect, THAT is sad. The fact that you talk about mops and buckets when I'm talking about a game ending tells me you we're dropped as a child. If you bothered even reading my post, I NEVER ONCE mentioned my stance on whether the ending should be changed or not. All I said is that in a game that promotes choice "If you can't forge a story that finds fairly close balance between author's vision and fan expectation, you fail as a writer."

blue_francis14
blue_francis14

To the generation gap issue, I think today's generation are more daring when it comes to voice out their rants because of the advent of the internet. It's easier for them to find people who are feeling the same way. As for the ending, I really don't mind it. But when I saw the pre release videos, especially the one they said that they won't do a lost thing, they won't follow traditional games where choice ending are a,b and c. Then after the release, the promises were not honored. I think some people might be willing to take this to the court as false advertising case. I hope the consumers should learn about this. Expect less from games published by EA. *cough cough command and conquer cough cough*

mos2000
mos2000

@Gravity_Slave Your Misery analogy is so on target, I almost jerked a tear when I read it! lol. Dude/Dudette, It's a generational gap. This generation wants to see the same recycled styles of everything over and over until it's bleed dry. ME is not over I can understand disappointment that more was not revealed. But for those to have heavily enjoy over 99.99% of what they got so far, and to let 0.001% of it thrust them into outrage, again - when its not over, is unbelievable. Now in telling you it's a generational gap, I'm assuming that because you used a Misery reference you've been gaming longer than most of these people with this "sense" of rage have been alive. If my assumptions are wrong and you are of this generation - then I apologize, but say thank god that you all aren't stuck inside a box.

MrOnage
MrOnage

@WafflePrime they are already working on that. one of the creators of ME3 said that if the fans would know what they were planning, they would hold on to their copy of ME3.

WafflePrime
WafflePrime

i agree with him, the only thing Bioware should do is clarify the endings, possibly with DLC. Or in whatever game they decide to make in the ME universe they can elaborate on what happened during the earth invasion

Pnexus
Pnexus

Incorrect! Most are upset because of false promises. Go to the official site and you read there clearly: "Along the way, your choices drive powerful outcomes, including relationships with key characters, the fate of entire civilizations, and even RADICALLY DIFFERENT ENDING scenarios." . Basically they say that what you do through the trilogy matters and then introduce a character in the end that (basically) asks you to choose door number 1,2 or 3, which was exactly what Casey Hudson (Executive Producer - Mass Effect) said would NOT happen, his words were: "It's not even in any way like the traditional game endings, where you can say how many endings there are or whether you got ending A, B, or C." 3 things determine the end. 1) Did you destroy the Collector base in the second game; 2) level of readiness (you need to play a lot of online and have to pay real money for products or play for a very long time) and 3) door number 1, 2 or 3. If you went to a restaurant and I recommended you the stake "I'll bring you a real good one!" and I brought tuna, you would want me to get you the stake. You don't even want the money back, if you wanted the money you wouldn't go to a restaurant and ask for a stake, right? This is a good analogy. And I did look at both sides? In fact last Sunday I was thinking the same thing: "haters gonna hate!". Funny that you assume that idea immediately and complain about "conspiracy theories". To speak without knowledge will lead to more stupidity.

exodiatheone
exodiatheone

Ok why is this guy sad? And what does it matter to him that Bioware is changing the ending?

Entropy730
Entropy730

@Pnexus did you mean the later generation rather than the "preceding" or one before it? Because I made it clear I'm disgusted with this generation's whining, not past generations. You've obviously been in this argument for some time because you got that list of changed works from somewhere. And honestly, after reading that list, my perspective isn't as dire as it was when i wrote that post, but I still see much of this reaction to ME3 as emotional attachment to something that's supposed to be over. If they revived The Sopranos or Harry Potter because too many fans cried over it then I would be disappointed. Some of those things changed in the past like Star Trek were based off of poor writing. That's COMPLETELY different than what I'm saying. If something's poorly written and not of the same quality as was prior, then okay because it doesn't align with what is already there. I'm arguing here that with ME3, people just didn't like the ending. It was perfectly fine, it was not weird or out there, nor poorly written. It's just over, and people are crying about it. It's not about quality that people are complaining about, it's that they didn't get it their way. That kind of reaction to any art is stupid and should be disregarded because it's one based out of fear, and that feeling you get when your favorite TV show ends. It's over, get a new show.

Pnexus
Pnexus

@ Entropy Really? Are you sure? Because: Charles Dickens changed the ending to Great Expectations based on fan and fellow writer's reactions. Arthur Conan Doyle brought Sherlocke Holmes back from the dead because fans complained. Blade Runner was changed quite a bit after negative fan feedback that the director just so happened to agree with. Shakespeare altered the ending of King Lear due to reaction. The ballet Swan Lake was changed due to a negative reaction. Numerous comic books have been retconned. Whole episodes of Star Trek have been declared non-canon by the writers and fans because of poor writing. Mozart himself would change some of his pieces based on what the audience thought. Numerous films go through test screening processes so this very thing doesn't happen. Sometimes that doesn't work out either (I Am Legend). More recently, that poorly written omen called Mass Effect Deception is being fixed because fans complained. What is stupid is how every generation looks at the preceding one and has nothing but bitterness and pain to give. That is why the world is like it is. Thank you for adding to it.

Entropy730
Entropy730

It's not up to a fan to decide the outcome of the artist's work. This is bad because it means whiners win a battle against artists. In the future, if this trends, it means that the video games I make and their sequels will be under more societal supported scrutiny and critique because somehow fans need to get the endings to stories that they request? This is ridiculous. No matter how much you love a story never, EVER gives you the right as a reader/fan to demand the creator/author to make a new ending that gives you more personal satisfaction over a fictional story. Like seriously how childish is this generation? If there's really an End Times I'd say its fast approaching. I know most gamers are males like me but dear God are so many of the younger kids just flat out cowards and brats who will never BE men because they're stuck in fake childhood worlds their entire waking lives. You don't like a fictional ending, to a fictional story, about fictional characters, so you'll sign a petition to force a company to change it so you can sleep better at night? They gave alternate endings, not YOUR PERSONAL ending that YOU wanted for your self. This is exactly what this is about. It's not about "freedom of choice" or "variety of endings" - it's BS. You want YOUR ending the way YOU WANT IT. That's as plain and true as it is. The people saying they want this other ending for "choice" and "variety" are lying. Like children they're emotionally attached to a fictitious world. At the expense of defacing a work of art, a story, a final product, they want it changed to their heart's desire NOT FOR VARIETY, but for personal satisfaction, so they can have it their way... Get a real life. Signing petitions to change the game's ending? You know what I would like to see happen in this world, with this generation? How about this: When a corporate oligarchy of greedy and rich-beyond-belief banksters destroys your nation's future and prosperity, how bout being real men and "sign a petition" for that to be changed? Oh, no, wait, incoming brain defense mechanism: "derp that's a conspiracy theory".... You can't be bothered. Better go complain about fictional stories that have no real life meaning. Give me a break. This is so disgusting to see "fans" grovel like spoiled brats at this low of a level... Seriously, end of the world as we know it.

Pnexus
Pnexus

Is this a joke? Does he know that ME games are based on the concept of variety? (choices, characters,relations, etc) To say that adding an alternative ending to a game that is supposed to be built of alternatives (depending on you) is a bad thing, is just uninformed or biased bantering. To associate the business of maximizing revenue with the least cost (let's not forget day 1 DLC) with art, is truly a insult to real artists. And if they have them there, ask them (artists) if they want their hard work (over 5 years) ruining the entire experience of some fans (in my opinion majority, if you take in consideration the polls. In just a facebook page 53,105 at the moment and counting) because of a 10 minutes finale that was exactly what they said it would not be? First, inform yourself before making such remarks.It is narrow sighted comments like this (from someone that is considered anyone in the gaming industry) that drives society to think of this media as secondary. Thank you for not proving them wrong.

romans828_2002
romans828_2002

No matter the series, the majority of fans seem to have their own personal outcome in mind before the end. They are disappointed with any creativity on the part of the writers because they wrote what the fans did not think of. I've found that with many beloved series, fans always seem to hate the way it ends. Combine that with the stupidity that rages on the internet, and you have the idiocy we see here. Bioware: ME is your vision. Have some artistic integrity and leave it alone. You'll only make people more mad if you change it.

JBcrazy
JBcrazy

"BIoshock Creator Saddened by Mass Effect 3 Controversy" "99.9 Percent of Mass Effect 3 Players Saddened by Current Ending" ".01 Percent Defending The Sad Mass Effect 3 Ending"

siarhei
siarhei

They want to call it art? But lots of artists are contracted to create. Only very successful artists can afford to not care about opinion. Otherwise, it is business, and as such, depends on the customer. Deal with this, game industry.

bigcrusha
bigcrusha

 @Ground-Hugger I'm sorry I don't understand your reply, "yes what does?"

 

As for the art thing, can't say I agree, art is an exposition of creative talent regardless of purpose, whether it's in the form of music, picture, painting or sculpture. An exhibition's purpose for existing doesn't determine whether it can be classified as art. You'd be surprised how many painters these days paint things they generally don't care about just to pay next month's rent, that doesn't mean what they they created isn't art.