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SkylinePigeon

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Edited By SkylinePigeon

Also, to those saying that works should not and do not go through substantial revisions after their initial release, might I point you to the seminal work of American poetry, Walt Whitman's "Leaves of Grass," which was substantially revised eight times throughout Whitman's lifetime and expanded by hundreds of pages and thousands of lines over these edits?

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SkylinePigeon

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Edited By SkylinePigeon

@Languid_logic Ha, wouldn't that be awesome? :) Yeah my comment is more to point out that I just don't buy comparing Mass Effect 3's artistic integrity to other more successful works, because when you take all the commercial concerns away and compare them just as art, Mass Effect has serious inconsistencies and storytelling flaws. Nobody would let that stand in a novel and people trash movies that don't make sense. I'm not interested in giving ME3 a free pass. :P (although like I said it's WONDERFUL until the ending IMO, and as long as the Indoctrination Theory is true I can probably forgive it :P)

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SkylinePigeon

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Edited By SkylinePigeon

@Languid_logic I'm something of a Vonnegut expert, so I'll bite on this comment since you brought up Cat's Cradle. My comment will be specific to that. :) Cat's Cradle spoilers to follow!

The major difference between Cat's Cradle and Mass Effect 3's ending is narrative consistency. Throughout the novel we're confronted by Felix Hoenikker's childlike but ultimately careless approach to science. What happens at the end of the novel? Human carelessness and irresponsible scientific "progress" literally destroys the world, and we're left with a religious prophet thumbing his nose at god. No progress, no meaning, just random destruction because people couldn't be bothered to pay attention and think about their actions. No damn cat, no damn cradle. It's thematically consistent and the ending of the novel reinforces those ideas, putting a big moral exclamation point at the end of the work. Further, while the science is fictional, it sticks to the rules created early in the work. Ice-9 has rules Vonnegut sets out early, and its use follows that formula.

And now Mass Effect 3. What are the themes of the series to the point of the ending? I'd say maybe galactic cooperation, player choice/agency, organics vs. synthetics, and the relationships you cultivate over the course of the game. Does the ending deal with those things? No! Player choice or agency has no effect, the results of galactic cooperation are not seen, no squadmate stories are resolved, and the result of the division between organics and synthetics? Uh, I've got no clue. So clearly narrative consistency failed in this case. Second, it's also logically inconsistent. Arrival shows us that the destruction of the mass relays results in huge explosions that can destroy planets. That's not something we see. How did Joker get away? What about squadmates that may have been on the ground with you? How did they get on the Normandy? Are they really going to just starve to death in a jungle? That's the end? So many plot holes. This makes sense if you believe the indoctrination theory, but at face value it's both nonsensical and extremely depressing (most alien species trapped in Sol system with no way to get home considering the destruction of the relays, everyone starves to death hurray!).

So we have a HUGE difference here between something like Cat's Cradle, which I love and find to be a very valuable work of art, and Mass Effect 3, which is wonderful until the last ten minutes or so. Mass Effect 3, unlike Cat's Cradle, unlike many other works we've looked at, totally borked the ending. It's not even a question of opinion - looking at the lore and the thematic inconsistency, that's a question of -fact-. So Cat's Cradle is a successful work of art, while Mass Effect 3 in it's current form is not successful as a narrative. It has no coherent theme or logical consistency, no overarching moral or purpose we can point to reliably. And that's why considering Mass Effect 3 against other major "risky" or controversial works is a false comparison. Mass Effect fails on a storytelling level while the other works don't. Had the ending been more whole or made sense, THEN we could argue whether it was good or not and I would defend the artistic integrity (I'd put LOST in the abstract & controversial but artistically successful category). Yet because it fails on a storytelling level, I don't have the desire to defend its integrity on the ending. I have no desire to defend bad art, ESPECIALLY bad art with a primarily commercial purpose.

The last the thing I want to say though, is that a change to the Mass Effect 3 ending was planned even before release - DLC content was always coming. So we have yet to recieve the final product, even before the backlash, even before extended cut, a change was already in development.

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SkylinePigeon

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Edited By SkylinePigeon

I disagree with this article about as much as is possible. :P I'm not particularly familiar with Doom, but in the case of Mass Effect 3 the ending is completely logically inconsistent with the rest of the series (and let's not get started on thematic inconsistencies and all of that storytelling business :P). Is a bad artistic vision worth preserving? But further, with the ME3 ending, we always knew from the beginning it would be altered in some way. From the beginning we knew DLC would be changing the story. As far as we know, this "Extended Cut" DLC is the same thing they were always planning on releasing, just renamed to make fans think they're getting the change they wanted. The game as is was never intended to be the final product anyway because DLC was always coming.

The trouble we get into here is games as art vs. games as commercial entertainment product. Which is it? Well, both. But I think there's a difference between high art and low art, on intent or aim. There would be a difference in something like Jason Rohrer updating the graphics of Passage (http://hcsoftware.sourceforge.net/passage/) because of complaints about the simple art style. Passage is about experience, emotion--it doesn't have a commercial aim. Mass Effect 3 and Doom, on the other hand, while they do want to deliver quality experiences, are also about making gobs of money for their respective companies AND satisfying players. If your aim is to satisfy players and they aren't satisfied, doesn't it make sense to do right by your customers?

Games ARE art. But they are also commercial entertainment products. If the audience isn't entertained, the product has failed. Both the "art" and "commercial purpose" aspects MUST be evaluated in deciding how to best handle design changes.

And lastly, any good art goes through edits, revisions, and changes before it is finalized. Writing is re-writing, as they say.

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SkylinePigeon

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Edited By SkylinePigeon

Nice feature guys (and lady!!)... it's good to hear your insight. :)

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SkylinePigeon

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