Saturday, January 5, 2013

Dear Casey D Hudson

  In high school I watched a friend as he drew a picture.
   I was there, making suggestions (at the artists' request) and just enjoying the artistry from the very first line. After a few moments, I saw the lines become a face. A pretty girl. More lines suggested wistful sadness and determination. Flowing, floating hair lent the image a sense of mystical power.
   It was awesome to be a part of the process, even if it was his hand that held the pen. He incorporated my suggestions into the evolving image, and I cherished the opportunity to be a part of the making of such beauty.
   I was awed by the simple effect this image had on me. I'm not sure why it did, I can only guess that it had something to do with having been there, with my input being honored, to see the perfect mix of the artists' vision and my suggestions weave together to create such art.
   Then, he made what he saw as a mistake (it happens when you decide to draw with pens) and suddenly began making the picture dark and strange in a way that simply did not mesh with the original concept.
   The girl's ethereal beauty was made darker, harsher, one of her eyes sacrificed to make her visage more bitter and 'edgy'. Her hair was made black, stark, and lifeless. It lost the magical lightness it had before.
   The lines of her face lost the wistful wisdom and turned bitter and rigid.
   This pretty, sad, yet hopeful image was destroyed in only a few seconds, turned by the artists' hubris from beauty to unsatisfying ashes.
   What you, in your hubris, did to the last 10 minutes of Mass Effect 3 was infinitely worse. That artist, years ago, was simply drawing a picture to amuse himself. It wasn't his job to enrich or appease me, he simply meant to waste a few moments to cure himself of boredom.
   Mass Effect 3, however, was given to it's fans from the very moment it was said that "there is no canon" and that "the decisions you make completely shape your experience and outcome."
   Bioware used to be a company that cared what its' consumers wanted. Feedback was used. If the players were unhappy, the first response was "sorry! we appreciate your business, so what can we do better?" They would make like Arthur Conan Doyle and retcon Sherlock's death if it truly upset people. Not anymore, it seems. When did that happen? When did the collaborative game-making turn into "you just aren't smart enough to appreciate the genius that is our masterful ending? Also, ARTISTIC INTEGRITY."?
   And for the record, to see what the fans would have considered a "happy" ending, see the MEHEM mod. Note that it is still not "happy" per se (despite being called the 'Mass Effect (3) Happy Ending Mod'.) But it fits the definition of "bittersweet" far better than your original endings did.
   In MEHEM, though you 'win', though you do manage to destroy the reapers and even escape the Citadel with your life, there is no party, no celebrating, no wild sexual encounter with your love interest. Simply mourning the dead, and sharing a sad embrace with your lover. Roll credits.
   Ignoring the plot holes, the lore-abuse, and the constant insults to the players' intelligence, the endings Bioware came up with read like an angsty teenagers' diary, where any happiness is considered blase and cliched, and death and suffering inordinately glorified.
   To say that having Shepard survive the ending dishonors the sacrifices he or she made along the way is an over-simplification, proven by MEHEM. The universe is still in ruins. Billions of sentient people of all races still died. Beloved team members were lost to betrayal, or circumstance, or the very war we were fighting. And yet, to the completely dumbfounded shock of many of Bioware's most hardcore fans, the only endings you saw fit to deliver us are abominable. I shall explain.
   Control asks that I kindly just forget the entire argument I just won against the Illusive Man; that even CONSIDERING trying to control the reapers is insane. It also means just taking the word of the suspicious computer program who's made himself look exactly like the child I've only seen in my nightmares for the last several months. In other words, the very option seems ridiculous, and that's not even counting the other logical inconsistencies it casually brings up.
   Synthesis is worse. From the first words about it from the kid's mouth, I (and many others) were HORRIFIED. I wouldn't even give a friend a simple PIERCING without his consent. This is a bit more serious than a piercing. Let's try again; I wouldn't give a friend a tattoo without his consent. That's a little better for this analogy, but Synthesis is also far more serious than that. Basically you're asking us to enforce non-consensual universe-wide complete body modification. And since it is not properly explained in such a way as to tell us EXACTLY WHY it is completely necessary to DNA-rape the galaxy, (other than the singularity concept they brought up for the first time 5 minutes ago. even though that whole idea was just proven wrong by the fact that I united the Quarians and the Geth.) it simply remains abominable. So that's out.
   Destroy seems like the only logical, least monstrous alternative, and I think you knew that when you wrote it. I can only assume that that's why you decided, (to keep things even,) to force the genocide of an entire race of newly-minted full AI's and the animus ex Normandy. And while we're on the subject, a quick note; having only one ending in four where the beloved protagonist can potentially survive and then leaving him or her in the rubble, gasping for breath, and then essentially saying "you don't need to know the details. s/he's technically alive; that's enough right?" is another casual slap to the faces of the people who opted to end their trilogy on that note.
   Mass Effect 3 is the final chapter of this arc, and Shepard. Does it not strike you as a TEENSY bit crass to not commit to Shepard's fate? Not even counting the fact that Bioware is FORCING character death on Shepard in three out of four endings--(But wait! Weren't we supposed to get 16 "wildly" different endings? ...What? You're counting the entire game as the ending? Oh. 'Cause I was know...from the climax (Priority: Earth) and on. Like everyone else who wasn't using corporate doublespeak to 'win' all their arguments.)
   I digress. After 10 months, I am still this upset. Why the silence? Why the lack of proper response to peoples' perfectly reasonable grievances? Are you really going to just let over 60,000 of your (previously) most loyal, diehard fans slip away? We have stuck with you since Baldur's Gate; some of us since Shattered Steel. Does that level of customer loyalty mean nothing to you? Are you really going to let the shrieking of BSN trolls prevent you from addressing the real issues with Mass Effect 3 that are forefront in our minds?
   ...After 10 months, I am very sad to have to assume that the answer to the last two questions is a smug, self-satisfied yes.
   Find humility. Do better. Stop making promises you don't intend to keep.

   -A former fan