Saturday, 24 November 2012

A writer's reaction to ME3: Absolute Hilarity Edition.

Apparently, this fellow is a writer, and I couldn't help but respond to his post.

I'm hoping this is all satire and I'm totally missing the joke.  (This is a fellow who seems to enjoy The Star Wars prequels and dislike Skyfall.)

There have been a number of odd reactions to the ending of ME3, because it's absolute rubbish.  But I've yet to hear even one, sensible, intelligible, positive one, without having the individual profess some self-interpreted subjective rambling about ...well, incomprehensible schtick, really.  Are people just dumb?

After reading "In Defense of Bioware" by OsirisLord Games, Art, and the Art of Game Design" that youtube poster EmperorOfLols made, I couldn't believe it could get worse; but to a writer?  A person who studies and makes fiction?

Will the wonders of ME3 never cease?


  1. This may be a real shocker for you but everyone has a different opinion, and opinions have little to nothing to do with facts. Argue all you want, but you'll never be able to prove, one way or the other, that your opinion is factual. I typically review novels, since that is my area of expertise (written several myself) and yet I would never disparage anyone from liking or disliking something. I personally felt that the Twilight books are examples of poor writing, and I might even take the time to list the reasons why such books are of poor literary quality; however, the reasons I would list would be purely subjective, based on my personal experiences and interests. Apparently, many women (and more than a few men) enjoy Twilight, and that is the only thing that matters to writers and publishers. I would never be so arrogant as to attack someone's intellect for liking or disliking something. You did not like the end of Mass Effect 3; you have many objections to it, then that is true for you, but not for everybody. You mentioned on my blog that art is shit. Yes, it can be, but it is also subjective, so that same shit can be a work of genius to someone else (Jackson Pollock comes to mind).

    1. This may be a real shocker to you, but you can have opinions that are based on facts. (This water is wet, the sun is bright, these socks are cozy, etc.)

      I can in fact argue that my opinion is factual, because I'm not actually making an argument: I'm making an observation. I argue so that others may understand.

      You can, in fact, enjoy a piece of shit. If I'm starving and I eat shit, I don't complain. I need to survive. However, I'm still eating shit. (See Wayne W. Dyer's optimistic tale of Victor Frankl in Nazi Germany.)

      I did not imply that because I didn't like the ending to ME3, that no one else did. (Not sure where you got that, either.) Art can be shit. And if they do like such things, (e.g. shit), then they do not comprehend what they are seeing, and instead, are biased, selective, stupid, ignorant, or literally blind.

      If everything is subjective, then there can be no critical analysis, no rating, no way to improve, and writers/creators are just pissing in the wind, with no clue as to what is good or bad (except themselves), hoping the masses will think their urination is good (in some unknown way.)

      You are the one with the problem. You're the one who can't comprehend why Skyfall is good, or how ME3 is bad, without changing your perspective for the sake of trying to understand the other side.

    2. "Was it terrible? Not at all."

      If you actually paid attention to the rules the narrative created over the games and their DLC, the continuity in the lore, you will naturally understand that the Starchild is the most destructive force in all the games, and we're not talking about the cycles here. We're talking bad writing.

      Unless you're deaf, dumb, blind, stupid, biased, or a combo. I can't be sure at this point.

      "Not all fiction is consistent. A story has to do one thing: interest the reader."

      These are called bad stories.

      A story has to do TWO things. Entertain and teach. To say a story has to be interesting is the most generic thing I've ever heard. A speck on a wall can be interesting.

      If you don't teach, it's just mindless sensationlism. If you don't entertain, you're lecturing (probably ethics.)

      "(I) Without evidence to back it up, you insist the aliens will starve. For this to be true, you have to assume that:
      A) There is not enough food in storage."
      EDI gives a specfic discussion about the Krogan's needs:

      Suffice to say, there isn't enough food for one violent carnivorous species, let alone every other species stranded wherever they are, till people start a) magically rebuilding two relays in tandem, in hopes the other can support them, b) grow all types and necessary amounts of said food properly in a habitable place, c) canniablize ships to create makeshift farmland equipment and seeds, somehow, d) do all this before everyone starves to death, all the while wondering if Krogans even eat vegetables.

      You can't bring up invented solutions to solve other problems if they create more problems than they solve.

      "B) Food cannot be grown on a ship (ever heard of hydroponics?)"
      Did the narrative? Cause if it didn't, you can't start guessing the maturation cycles of super-vegetables that'll magically feed an army of millions of people of different species of different protein chirality, on this magically makeshift hydroponics bay every ship will make that'll have to feed entire fleets. It's called engineering, and you're unaware of the scale of such things.

      "C) Food cannot be synthesized ala Star Trek (was food ever an issue on board the Normandy?)"
      See ME2's sidequest: Rations.

      And guess what? Survival now is, which means, food.

      D) Other planets (like Mars) cannot grow food, even though NASA has a plan to do just that.
      Unless it's common knowledge, a proven part of the narrative that ME species can grow food on Mars like planets, then no, that's not an argument.

      "E) The Earth cannot recover, even though geologists have shown mass extinctions happen frequently throughout geologic time, and everything turns out fine. In the Permian Age, 95% of all marine species went extinct. The Triassic extinction claimed 80% of quadrupeds. In the Cretaceous, no large land animals survived. Life is resilient. The Law of Conservation states Earth cannot be destroyed other than by supernova. Life would return in time, which is better than total extinction."
      (Retcon: Relays destroy entire solar systems, especially massive ones right next to planets (Earth.))
      100% of all life on earth is reduced to ash. Nothing recovers. Cellular respiration is extinguished.

    3. "G) The Earth is worse than it looks. But raging fires tells us nothing about the ocean (which makes up 3/4ths of the Earth anyway). Plus, London is largely intact. A true mass extinction, like what wiped out the dinosaurs, would leave nothing standing."
      Earth is a cinder block. It took billions of years for evolution to create complex life again. I guess the makeshift terraforming technology you just invented (all spaceships would normally have onboard) would start producing fresh fruit and vegetables (from ash in a matter of hours) for dextro and animo based protein life forms to consume, would be in grown instantly and in abundance, right?

      "E) There are too many aliens on board the fleets. There are 190 million in Pakistan alone. Doubtful there are so many on the fleets, but Earth has room (especially now that humans have been killed off by Reapers)."
      Earth is a cinder block. While lower numbers sound promising, the Reapers have annihilated industrial centres of the planet with megaton scale firepower in seconds. Good luck while millions plow fields full of radiation, with their hands, while they starve because THERE'S NOTHING TO EAT with their makeshift, large scale terraforming technology that all ships suddenly have and can reproduce en masse. Oh, I guess this makeshift technology removes radioactive waste, produces all sorts of seeds, produces make shift soil, fresh water, sunlight, and controls the climate, too.

      "F) None of the above matters, because of FTL. This is a FACT you cannot deny. It is more than possible for the fleets to go to other systems."
      Such as?

      "Your doomsday scenario is based on many more assumptions than mine."
      Which assumptions would those be? Your entire argument is complete speculation.

      Mine is based on facts:
      -The fact that the military ships don't have terraforming technology.
      -The fact that you have no idea where we can go simply because we have FTL.
      -The fact that millions are stranded throughout the galaxy.
      -The fact that the relays are destroyed and the hub of commerce, communication and transport is cut
      -The fact that the Reapers have annihilated most of the planet, it's industrial centres and healthy farmland with nuclear grade weaponry (we have a CGI video of a Reaper attacking a farm for god's sake.)

      "(II) Starving is technically impossible. As the population nears zero, food becomes abundant. Worst case scenario: cannibalism."
      If they can't grow healthy new food, starvation is guaranteed.

      "(III) On your YouTube video, you wanted the Reapers simply destroyed, but without philosophizing or twists of any kind, the story could not have concluded meaningfully."
      If you think the Starchild concluded things meaningfully, your intelligence knows no bounds.

    4. "We knew the Reapers were harvesting species; it could not have been merely to make zombies."
      Why not? ME2 proved it was a giant zombie.

      "Destroying Earth would have been as simple as pushing an asteroid."
      As in most cases, I fail to see your point.

      "The twist ending was inevitable."
      Really? How so?

      "Having the Reapers be evil for the sake of evil would have been cliche and utterly disappointing."
      So having the Reapers be insane Space Nazi's makes sense how?
      -When the Starchild doesn't comprehend why or how organics will always die to synthetics?
      -When the Starchild contradicts himself with shoddy logic?
      -When the Starchild sees every problem as every living thing to be destroyed, and must Control/Reaperfy or Destroy it?
      -When the Starchild solves the problem of destruction of a single species with destruction of all species who fly spaceships?

      I think I would've rather just wanted the big bad evil guys who had to be stopped, than this insanely contrived piece of lore breaking, contradictory nonsense.

      "(IV) A story should not introduce new characters at the end, you said, but Mass Effect 3 didn't. The Catalyst is the Reapers! Have you not seen the Wizard of Oz?"
      So why didn't the writer's introduce the character at the start of the story?
      So what if the Starchild's a gestalt, or a hive mind? The difference is, the writer of The Wizard of Oz wasn't a hack who didn't write themselves into a corner.

      "(V) The ending isn't nihilistic. The protagonist destroyed the Reapers and saved the galaxy. But let's say for the sake of argument the ending was nihilistic. That still wouldn't make it a bad ending."
      I never said nihilistic endings were bad. Are you having problems reading my sentences? Should I suggest some grade school books for you? Speak-and-spell? Does your publisher teach you English?

      "I am sorry Mass Effect 3 made you unhappy, but it's just a game. For me, it was great, and I'll be sure to buy the next in the series."
      This is because you're a hack.

  2. So he's removing your posts now?
    Could you re-post your answer to his "final thoughts" here? I would like to read it.

    1. Thanks.

      It bothers me that a writer can have so little regard for storytelling in games and so little training in objective analysis. The guy can hardly understand what you're trying to send across sometimes, let alone write an argument that makes sense.

      Maybe this is how a conversation with Mac Walters and Casey Hudson would play out?

    2. Why not find a bunch of people and writers to follow you to a convention where the "writers" of ME are taking care of the fans, and then proceed to ask the living shit out of them?

      Start with: If Casey and Walters stand by their bullshit then why, once again, they are not present to defend their "vision"?

  3. Well, he wrote me that he basically doesn't care all that much about the story to begin with (here is the actual quote): "Basically, the "story" of Mass Effect is, Shepard goes to planet A, shoots people, then goes to planet B, shoots more people, repeat. Sorry, but I cannot take a game story like that too seriously." (of course, this is just part of the comment, you can see the rest in his blog, if you feel so inclined), so I guess he wasn't looking closely at all at the plot to begin with, or considered it like an action flick, but I'll know for sure once he reads my last comment and answers to it (the comment isn't visible yet, since it has to wait for moderation). I am curious as to why he wrote a post about the ending, if he doesn't take the game itself too seriously.

    1. Well of course that he HAS to defend the ending like that, its a long term gambit. If i lie enough about how stories work to this children using the Internet and games, i can get away with anything by just using the magic word "Artistic Integrity"

      Otherwise, when he does the same for HIS books, he will have to admit that he fucked up and change it.

    2. You know, I hadn't quite thought of that... Your idea has some fascinating (if terrifying) ramifications! :D

    3. Maybe another reason of why more people do that kind of thing is just isnt fair. The fans of ME managed to convince the authors (barely) to change the ending and they did, in the eyes of other people of different fanbases, this is quite unfair. Their bitching went unheard off but the ones of ME did??? BETRAYAL!!! IF I CANT GET AWAY WITH WHAT I WANT THEN NOBODY WILL!!!!!!

      I hope that in the future, someone makes a movie or a game about how the future WOULD BE if this crap is allowed. How the future of storytelling would be when you can get away with anything you want with "Artistic Integrity".

      In the meantime, lets talk about possible games that Smudboy could cover. Since he has now the attention of all the Biodrones in his channel, it seems logical that he either analizes Baldurs Gate or KOTOR just to give people a taste of what was lost in obscurity of gaming history.

      There is also Planescape: Torment, the best RPG of all time if not the best story ever written for a videogame. There are so few videos about Torment (the mayority is about Tony Jay being.....Tony Jay) that one analizis of this game could possibly even HELP to convince people to put money on the Proyect Eternity kickstarter (or whatever)

      On my personal note, i would suggest Spec Ops: The Line. Why? well, because in the words of Smudboy "Why analize the story of a 3rd person cover based shooter? because it has one. Most games, specially cover shooters, dont even try to have a good story" This game is a deconstruction of the Call Of Duty wannabe games that glorify war. And deserves KITE the attention considering that it didnt manage to win enough money to cover its expenses. I guess that, just like in Metal Gear Solid 2, the audience doesnt like to be insulted when the game tells them that they are stupid for pretending to be badasses like Solid Snake.

      But if Smudboy prefers to dig some old games for the sake of showing the kids today that games DID have good plots all along, then i can suggest the following:

      Sacrifice by Shiny Entertaiment: made in 2000, its a RTS-RPG hybrid with branching storyline

      Tyrian: a Vertical Shoot Em UP that you can customize your ship to your specifications, and the story segments are told during these Buy/Sell sections. Since most shooters dont have story, these seems to fall under smud description

      Star Control 2: the game that ME was inspired from

      Turgor/The Void/Tension: This one is quite rare so i will try to summ it up: Created by indie developer team Ice-Pick Lodge, known for their previous game Pathologic, The Void is set in what is assumed to be the afterlife, or at least an afterlife. The player is a Lost Spirit who has lingered briefly in the Void while their way to Absolute Death - in an act of mercy, a woman known as the Nameless Sister shares a Heart with the spirit, enabling him to hold Color, a substance vital to survival in the Void.
      From that point on, the spirit must survive in the harsh realm of the Void, earning the favor of the naked, capricious Sisters and being careful not to anger the powerful and self-righteous Brothers, guardians of the Sisters. Other hazards abound in the Void such as Predators, strange and hostile beasts animated by errant color and the Void itself, which slowly drains the color out of spirits travelling through it - all while trying to figure out just what exactly is going on!

      IJI by Daniel Remar: Its an Action RPG (like Deus Ex and System Shock) in 2D (looks like Another World) and has a female protagonist that acts with.....EMOTIONS LIKE A HUMAN BEING!!(GASP) Like any good Deus Ex inspired game, it keeps track of what you did before during gameplay and the dialog reflects it (you dont have direct control over it)

    4. "I guess that, just like in Metal Gear Solid 2, the audience doesnt like to be insulted when the game tells them that they are stupid for pretending to be badasses like Solid Snake."

      I think that's being a bit unfair. I've heard very few complaints of people taking offense to Spec Ops' message.

      I feel the most likely reason it didn't sell well is far more economical: Paying $60 for a game that takes 5 hours to beat (even if it's a good 5 hours) and a crap multiplayer component isn't much of an investment. That's how I felt about it (rented it until I could pick it up for $25).

    5. Are you telling me that its NOT worth paying 60$ for a game that actually fucking cares about storytelling in the medium and yet games like COD get pay 60$ too for even LESS content??

      Even if it pains me to pay that much, at least it will equilibrate the balance in favor of good taste by paying full price for Spec Ops: The Line.

      The MGS2 comment of mine still hold some water because, after all, the ending and the twist can be spoiled by Youtube (MGS2 was released when the Internet wasnt THAT strong as today's) So the cowards didnt want to pay for a game that insult their macho man way of seeing the world.

    6. However, i DID find some articles saying that Spec Ops: The Line is shite.

    7. What I am saying is that Spec Ops: The Line can easily be experienced on a one-day rental. The fact that the big experience of the story can be done via Youtube, as you mentioned, is also a major factor. From a gameplay standpoint, there is nothing remarkable about Spec Ops: The Line, and watching someone else play still gives you the experience.

      It's all well and good to support a developer, and I don't begrudge anybody who bought it to reward the effort. However, I also don't believe that $10 per hour of entertainment is a good deal, no matter how much the creator cared, especially when there have been other games with strong stories that give way more bang for the buck.

  4. I can't tell if I'm laughing so hard I'm crying or if I'm crying so hard that I'm laughing.

  5. I know that everyone makes a big deal about everyone being stranded in the Sol system, but I think you (and others) are overstating the problem.

    Suppose that for whatever reason, the fleets and their personnel are trapped on Earth in a post-Reaper War scenario with the Mass Relays inoperative. Lets say the total surviving personnel of the combined fleets and land forces was 10 million to be safe. The population of Earth pre-war was 11 billion or so. So, if all the personnel were human/asari/salarian/similar, the 10 million is literally a drop in the bucket (especially considering that the death count would probably be in the billions by this point).

    The devastation was generally localized to major cities per Anderson in ME3, he says that they learned that the Reapers avoided minor cities. This would imply that a lot of the farmland was not devastated by the invasion itself. Although how much was still being worked since the invasion is another question. So the biggest problem wouldn't necessarily be if there is food available, but the logistics of getting the food from farmlands, processing it and delivering it to people in refugee/urban areas. That problem is generic however, no matter what the ending and the status of the fleets, this problem would exist, the presence of an extra 10 million mouths simply adding slightly to the problem. Compare this to post WW2 Germany, or the US South during reconstruction.

    As for Turians/Quarians, remember that the Quarians were a ship based people so I'd imagine that they would have hydroponic bays or some other way of growing food even on their frigates. They could share with the Turians, and yes food supplies might be tight, but they wouldn't all starve.

    For the Krogan, they eat meat. In ME2, Joker talked about how most meat was grown in a lab. So no farmland even needed there. EDIs conversation with Shepard was specific to Krogan on Palavan.

    That doesn't mean *everyone* survives, but it doesn't mean *everyone* dies of starvation either.

    And yes, none of this is explained sufficiently in the game. Which is the real problem; all of this could have been relatively easily explained in the voice over afterwards, talk about food shortages existing for years, etc... but it wasn't. Just like the talk about Reaperfication being "ascension", it had a lot of the elements there, but wasn't tied together properly.

    1. According to the Extended Cut, all ships left the Sol system because...I guess Hackett magically knew that the crucible was a weapon (I don't know, maybe he read the script), and made sure to leave before the blast vaporised their ships.

    2. See, in this respect I preferred the original ending. A theme in ME1 and ME2 was about how technology was not linear and using technology without understanding it was undesireable. The original ending, with the mass relays destroyed, fit this theme.

      Humanity and the other species restricted their exploration and technological innovations because of the existence of the mass relays. Without them, they would have to pursue new methods of travel and would be free to develop in different ways. Maybe that would involve mass relays, maybe not.

      Wouldn't that also be a much better set up to a ME4 game (post-Reaper)? You are given a new ship with a new propulsion methodology that allows you to travel vast distances again and discover what has become of the galaxy since the invasion? Because of the multi-species nature of Earth post-invasion, your crew is also multi-species and heck, your new "Shepard" could also be non-human. Its just a thought.

  6. Hey Man, I recently discovered your videos from Shamus Young's Spoiler Warning ME3 conclusion, and have been really enjoying them. I'm glad I wasn't the only raising questions similar to yours throughout ME2 and ME3.

    But, I digress. Have I got anything to add regarding ME3? No, because I've argued it to death with others. But, I do have something to bring up here, and that is:

    "Why do all the arguments in defence of ME3 and it's ending suck?"

    No, really, I have yet to hear a good argument in defence of the game or the ending. All the ones I've heard contain some or all of the following non-answers: artistic integrity/vision, 'cycles', "It was their plan all along", "It's their game, they can do whatever they please with it", it's just people's 'opinions' that they didn't like the ending, it all makes sense in a «insert bullshit reference here» sort of way, et cetera.

    They never address the core of the problem, and a content to just make excuses for it...which anyone with half a brain saw through, and is why the third game is as controversial as it is.

    1. That's because there isn't a valid argument. People liked it despite of its shortcomings (I can't understand why, but there it is). It's like trying to argue with people that like the Twilight books: a few of them will recognize the many flaws of the books, and might say to you "you are right, but I still found them enjoyable" while others will refuse to do so, and will defend them no matter what (of course, since they aren't really great, they don't have a rational counter-argument, and will resort to list other qualities that aren't nearly objective). This happens for all sorts of things, it just so happens that videogames are one of the most involving medium for the consumers, and as a result they tend to feel more strongly about it, I believe.

  7. I'll just declare that I love your reviews especially the ME3 extended cut analysis.

    However I will have to slightly defend Nick here especially with the whole art is subjective/objective debate.

    It's my position that whether art is good or bad is a subjective thing BUT art can be judge by criteria that can be objectively quantified. My view is that people judge art via criteria that is subjectively important to them but the criteria are objective.

    Some criteria are more universally common then others and that's why there are consensus of what works are universally considered good or bad.

    So let say criteria such as narrative coherence (eg. plot consistency lack of plot holes), characterisation (whether the characters are believable, natural dialogue etc), thematic consistency, realism, originality etc. i'll say that people subjectively find these criterias important but these criteria can be objectively quantified.

    So the presence of plot holes, out of character moments and dialogues etc are inconsistent themes are objective. People may argue about them and debate about these points but an objective truth is out there.

    HOwever how important these "flaws" are to the individual is subjective.

    Now people may say that narrative coherence is a universal criteria.

    Even if that's true, the degrees of importance is subjective between individuals. Let's look at your Mass Effect 1 review. You point out many plot holes throughout the review yet you thought the strength of the story and characterisation more than compensate. What happens if another individual points out the same plot holes and say I can't get beyond that and can't overlook that and the story is ruin because of that?

    1. In that situation both people agree with the same objective facts (that there is a plot hole) but their perception on what is good and bad is influence by how much subjective important they place on the objective fact. I will say that both people are correct within your personal values. I'm not going to say there is an objective correct importance people should place on these criterias.

      Similar for someone who let say values realism, let say they watch a science fiction and hears sound in space. Let say they automatically say the movie is bad because it is unrealistic because of that. They are correct within they own subjective paradigm. It's not the paradigm I agree with but in cases like that I just agree to disagree.

      From my personal belief, I agree with majority of your ME2 reviews. I believe that the primary plot of ME2 is subpar however my own preference in storytelling is towards characterisation. Whilst I think plot consistency is important, I believe characterisation is more important and I enjoy ME2 due to the solid characterisation and willing to overlook the subpar plot.

      So I agree with your points which is good characterisation but bad plots but my subjective importance place are different. I'm really not going to say how I choose to value what is important in art to be wrong and I'm not going to tell other people what they value in art to be wrong.

      When you combine the subjective importance on objective criteria with subjective criteria itself that determines enjoyment of art such as emotional resonance, comedy/humour, entertainment etc than I will say that good/bad art is subjective. in fact some people criteria in judging art is purely based on subjective criteria and you know what I'm not going to tell those people are "wrong"

      Of course someone would probably bring out the argument that just because you enjoy or dislike a work doesn't mean it's objectively good or bad. That if a work of art fails a criteria such as narrative coherence than it is objectively bad and people should be allowed to like the work but they can't say the work is good.

      however I think that the definition of good/bad to majority of people is based on their subjective enjoyment. The definition of good/bad in everyday language is based on the assumption of subjective enjoyment. Since culture has basically accepted that definition I think to avoid that confusion it's better to accept that subjective definition. That's a reason why people get offended when people say that work is objectively bad because you are telling people how they feel about a work of art is wrong.

      The debates about the objective qualities (such as whether there is a plot hole or not) gets lost and derailed when people are interpreting that people are challenging their right to feel a certain emotion.

      Si when people say they like ME3 ending and say it is "good", I don't really care because it's good within their own values of judging art that's not really applicable to my personal values at all. If people say that the ending has no plot holes, I will argue because this is something that is objectively quantified and can result in a consensus if one person argues well.

      Anyone that's my long response to this debate. Thanks if you read it.

      By the way there is a good essay about this subjective/objective debate although not with story telling but with music that you may find interesting as it certainly influence my views.

    2. Read your argument regarding subjectivity vs. objectivity. Had to post a counter-argument, because I don't think smudboy/Stephan is critiquing it based upon enjoyment ever. He even says most of the game delivers satisfactory payoff like, a billion times in replies and in the beginning of the BoD. He is criticizing narrative coherence, of which there is little to none that can be said for it, and the ending itself is so destructive it picks apart the structure of previously passable arcs.

      This has never been a debate about "art," this is a study of whether or not Mass Effect 3 has coherent narrative structure, for which the answer is deafeningly "no." The whole reason this article is here in the first place is because Stephan finds it humorous that someone who claims to be a writer doesn't see these massive Creative Writing 101 mistakes and dodges behind the over-used "art is subjective" strawman defense in an attempt to plea to his audience rather than actually making an informed, logical argument of opinion. Instead, he accuses people who argue another point of using circular logic without pointing out where such a fallacy is made, and leans on arguments from authority (i.e.- "I've been studying writing for over 30 years") to back baseless assessment.

      The only reason why you're arguing this is because you agree that things can be subjective, particularly in art, but that was never the argument in the first place. I don't think ANYONE disagrees with that, but anyone who doesn't get pulled in with some woo claptrap also realizes that entire point about subjectivity was a deflection from his initial argument that defends Mass Effect 3. Re-read his original post about how "writing structure is changing" and "facebook separating us" and all the directionless banter he uses to define his argument for the ending's strength, and watch how quickly he abandons it when Stephan actually challenges his perspective.

    3. I think nick essay is garbage and most of his defense is garbage (especially the whole thing about who cares about the characters and the assumption that the plot is good without justifying it) but I admit I'm just picking up one small point about "it's just opinion" and making a huge essay out of that point. I realised that he ended up falling on that defence when he couldn't respond to critique over the narrative coherence

      I'll just say that my response is less to do with Nick essay (although it did spark it) but more of a to do with my growing feelings culminating on watching numerous Smudboy reviews (although I guess I probably should apologise for hijacking t his topic.

      My issues is mainly with Smudboy going on about how certain story is objectively bad writing.

      NOw I watch enough Smudboy reviews to know that he is not challenging people emotion and that he is not telling people they can't enjoy the game because of that.

      However my main point was that it's easy for people to interpret it that way. Majority of people say a work is good or bad, they are essentially just saying they emotionally enjoyed the work for whatever reason.

      Smudboy's view of what is good/bad is highly influence by narrative coherence and since that can be objectively quantified he can say that the work is objectively bad.

      However this is why people get really really defensive and offended and then say "it's all subjective" when their own opinion gets challenge.

      They enjoy the work based on subjective emotional reasons and when they hear someone not only thinks it bad (which I think most fair people could accept) but think it's objectively bad. It's like the validity of their emotion is challenged.

      Now of course what smudboy really is doing is dissecting the narrative coherence rather than challenging how they should feel about the work but that intent gets lost there.

      I guess what I'm saying is that as much as enjoy smudboy work. The diplomacy and tact is missing there and it basically guaranteed to elicit these defensive "it's all subjective" opinion reaction from people.

    4. Honestly, I support Stefan's approach much more than diplomacy and tact, considering a good number of people have tried that approach only to be backhanded by Bioware and their rabid, though now depleting, fanbase. Trying to be nice to people is only a waste of time when it comes to a critique, because there's no nice way to say "dude, this sucks." The most you can do is go in circles where nothing is debated, challenged, or gained.

      Critiques are never friendly. They are meant to expose flaws for the sake of improvement. When people attach their feelings to it, and personalize critiques, cognitive dissonance sets in and before you know it you have another "artistic integrity" situation on your hands. Part of being a professional is having thick skin to properly assess the critiques of your work so you can improve. Part of being a grown up is understanding that it's ok to like something if it sucks, but you liking something that sucks is fine provided you call it for what it is.

      Example, I played Resident Evil 6 for a long time, had fun with it, and found ways to enjoy it. The game was utter trash in every sense and I wouldn't recommend it to anyone. That doesn't mean *I* didn't enjoy it, it just means I found a way to enjoy something that was shit, and I'm not making any excuses about what it is because I don't attach my ego to video games, art, entertainment, etc. If someone called me stupid for it, I honestly wouldn't care because I never said it was good. You don't need diplomacy or tact to sort that one out. You just need a brain and self confidence.

    5. While I do agree that people should develop a thicker skin.

      I will however ask that what's the purpose of the critique?

      If it simply a manner of self expression and to vent your own thoughts about the game then that is fine. You are expressing your true feelings without care about other people's feelings and then accept whatever people respond to you.

      However if your goal is to persuade other people to accept your reasoning. Then yes diplomacy and tact and comes into play.

      Smudboy response to Nick got his point across and was self-experssive and that's perfectly fine. However it was never going to persuade him. From the moment he argued his point that ME3 is (objectively) shit. Nick basically focus far more on the language Smudboy used, argued more about the subjectivity of art more than the objective narative arguments (although he did touch a little on that especially he only really focused on the starvation argument). The debate was derailed right at the beginning and his main point that ME3 ending lack narrative coherence gets lost.

      Again it depends on what his goals are, self expression or to persuade. I suspect that his style of critique would lend to entertaining people who already agree with him

      Personally I would simply just say. I don't like the ending because it's lack narrative coherence

      It lacks coherence because of a), b), c) etc
      Perhaps also argue about the character/plot device and point out that his entire article is based on a strawman argument.

      I just don't see the use of stuff like this is shit, or accused him of a biased english major or people who like ME3 ending are "biased, selective, stupid, ignorant, or literally blind."

      Now even if that's a 100% true statement it separate and and distract the primary argument of narrative coherence.

      But hey that's just me and if Smudboy wants to express his feelings that's fine but I'm just pointing out it's not going to persuade.

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    7. Ok, this whole topic has gone on a different tangent so I'm going to go for broke here:

      You're upset because Smudboy may have said things that you find either insulting, unnecessary, or unpersuasive.

      The fact that there is personal expression within his various critiques does not invalidate his point or take away from it. It merely reasserts that he is human. While someone may find it distracting to be called an idiot, given the case of Mr. Nick, it's a little hard to dissuade such an accusation when your argument (as you also agree) is complete garbage, rife with gaps in common sense.

      I'd rather not have an assessment of the plot written with the emotional investment of a card puncher. I'd rather not have someone criticize the arrogant assessments of a hack without formally calling them a hack. If that turns people away, well, they probably aren't the kind of people I want to be around (i.e.- people who compare the ending of ME3 to Beowulf and Facebook pseudo-philosophy bullshit.)

      Lastly, I'm going to directly quote Stefan about your misunderstanding about his diction. Hell you can scroll up and read it.

      " can have opinions that are based on facts."

      That being said, lets do a basic logic exercise:

      You and I both agree, Mass Effect 3 is riddled with a great deal of narrative flaws.

      Mass Effect 3 has an idiotic story because of these observed flaws, the lack of rational thought found when analyzing them, and how such flaws impact the overall structure of the story; of which amounts to utter foolishness (the very definition of idiot.)

      If Mass Effect 3 has an idiotic story, and someone is attempting to claim otherwise with equally idiotic arguments, this person is arguing for the case of idiocy.

      Therefore, if this person supports idiotic things through idiotic behavior, this person must be an idiot.

      I have concluded that Mr. Nick is in fact an idiot until conclusive evidence can be submitted dictating otherwise.

      Sometimes, people simply ARE idiots, and it's not the idiots you're trying to "persuade" with your opinions.

    8. To get back to my original topic
      Whether a story is good or bad is subjective. What you used to decide whether a story is good and bad are determine by criteria you subjectively value.
      Mass Effect 3 ending is bad/shit is a subjective statement
      Whether narrative coherence is important in a good story is subjective and based on your personal values and interest in storytelling (for example someone could just simply enjoy ME3 and consider it “good” storytelling because they enjoy the universe Bioware created and enjoyed the characters and their values and taste don’t care about narrative coherence and their personal taste gravitates towards story that emotionally move them).
      Narrative coherence is something that can be objectively quantified.
      Mass Effect 3 objectively lacks narrative coherence
      Mass Effect 3 is only a bad story if you subjectively care about narrative coherence. Now I care about narrative coherence so it is a bad story to me but I recognise that is my subjective preference that is determining that and the fact that narrative coherence is a common criteria in judging storytelling doesn’t change that it is still a subjective preference.

      Smudboy equating that a story lacking narrative coherence is bad is a subjective belief and values and not an objective truth

      In relation to the diplomacy that I admit I went on a tangent to. I wouldn’t say I’m “upset” about it but rather I’m bemused by it and I don’t think it will be effective at persuading people.

      I’m not debating whether his statements were the truth or not. Even if he was an idiot and a hack, how useful is it expressing it?

      Smudboy did say in his comments that he was trying to “educate” him why people disliked the ending. Do you really educate people by insulting them?

      If Smudboy not trying to persuade Nick but simply trying to persuade people reading the website I could take that point but really I do think it’s a bit of ad hominem even if the ad hominem was truthful and I do find that unhelpful even as someone who agrees mostly with Smudboy arguments.

      If you tear down and destroy someone argument, people can decide for themselves whether Nick is an idiot or not.

      In any case, I rather not call someone an idiot for not being able to analyse storytelling. That’s a particular unique skill that otherwise intelligent people may not have. However I do think his arguments were idiotic and that him being a writer and not being able to objectively analyse narrative coherence is a pretty bad career choice.

      If someone thinks Mass Effect 3 ending is narrative coherence, their arguments is idiotic but I wouldn’t extrapolate that to decide that they are idiotic as a whole without knowing them personally.

  8. EmperorOfLols here with one of my many avatars of the net. You should clarify that i DIDNT "made" the "In Defense of Bioware", i just posted the link for everyone to see. I dont want anyone burning my channel for supposedly defending insanity (though i am kite the poster boy for madness)

    If i see another one of those, i will tell you.

    PD:Arent you going to talk about the articles that are question the "Artistic Integrity" Of Bioware? like "This Is Not A Pipe"?

    1. Sorry, bad grammar. i meant to say:

      "..articles that question the "artistic integrity"...."

      You know, the articles that follow SOME logic (the good ones)

  9. I go back to the original topic of this page. Smudboy seems to be confused why people like ME3 ending.

    This is my attempts of trying to understand people who defend the ME3 ending

    I’m going to try and summarise why people like the ending

    a) Different definitions of plot holes
    A plot hole is a gap in narrative. If a plot goes from A to B and there isn’t sufficient explanation why it goes from A to B then it is a plot hole.

    However a lot of people don’t define it that way. A lot of people only consider something a plot hole if there is no imaginable explanation that could bridge a gap between A and B. Therefore as long as they can create head canon that explains a plot point than it isn’t a plot hole.

    Now I admit there is an subjective element of how much something should be explained by the writer to constitute a plot hole that there isn’t a complete consensus on but it seems like the ME3 defenders are happy to used their imagination to explain everything

    This leads to the next point

    b) Lots of speculation
    Not only don’t they define it a plot hole but they see it as a positive that they have to use their imagination to bridge the gap in narrative.

    I guess it goes to the idea that people like their imagination stimulated and like a mystery. If something doesn’t make sense and forces you think and try to make sense of it and you can imagine something that makes sense to you. Then I guess they then give credit the story for stimulating their imagination and think its deep because it stimulates your imagination.

    c) People get caught up in the atmosphere that the details don’t matter

    Of course this doesn’t explain why those same people are likely to scream plot holes in some stories but willing to head canon plot holes in Mass Effect 3.

    Whatever the flaws of Mass Effect 3 and of Bioware, one thing you can give credit for is that Bioware knows how to write believable characters and they know how to create an atmosphere that this is a living and breathing universe that people are willing to suspend their disbelief and get captivated in the story and game. Also Bioware knows how to manipulate emotions and create emotional dramatic scenes that draws people in the game. That has always been their core strength rather than plot even if it was solid in the past.

    If you are not captivated in the atmosphere of the story you are going to be more analytical on the story. If you are captivated by the atmosphere you are far more willing to give more slack and are more willing to do head canon and fill in the gaps in the narrative. People are more willing to believe that the plot holes were a part of a larger scheme (indoctrination theory) because they were invested in the universe.

    1. d) The ends justify the means
      No I’m not talking about moral argument but rather if you like the idea of a theme or a plot point. Then you believe a story that has that specific theme or plot point is good irrespective of the execution and how it was implemented.

      Nick essay was focused mostly on the idea that he liked the idea of Shepard sacrificing his life to save the galaxy and how much of a poetic end and how fitting that end has on the Mass effect series. So the fact that the story ended in the way he wanted it to be it doesn’t matter on the execution and detail on the ending. It doesn’t matter that the sacrifice was contrived and unnecessary. It doesn’t matter that Shepard acted like an idiot because the ends justify the means. Reading his essay Twilight Fans Are OK With Me (which cemented my concerns that he is a writer), his entire writing philosophy seems to be the end goal is to produce a positive emotional reaction from the reader and the means to reach that end doesn’t really matter.

      Similarly with themes some people like the whole synthetics/organic conflict theme. Some people even wrote an essay about the game brought out themes of technological singularity. So if the game supposedly have “deep” and intellectual themes then they enjoy it even if it was executed poorly and even if the themes came out of nowhere in the ending or contradicted previous themes in the game.

      One of the more sadder things was watching Angry Joe’s Extended Cut analysis (it was sad because his previous video criticising the ending was pretty good) where he absolutely praised the extended cut for “fixing” most of the problem of the story. The Extended Cut added an ending to a game and added character closure and added emotional farewell scenes and added explanations to unanswered question .The fact that the explanation probably introduced more plot holes doesn’t matter. It just seems like he enjoyed the emotional farewell scenes and enjoyed the funeral scenes and seeing some of your consequences play out in the ending override how it got there.

      e) Some people don’t care about narrative coherence
      This basically summarises all my previous points. The ability to determine narrative coherence is a skill and values that people don’t have or care about or have a completely different definition of. It seems to me that people played Mass Effect as a case of putting yourself in the shoes as Commander Shepard and enjoy the universe Bioware created and the characters they interact with.

      If the original ending had emotional closure such as the funeral, farewell scene and different ending cutscene and the ending sole problem was the narrative coherence of starchild, I suspect that there wouldn’t have been such a controversy with the ending. Sure Smudboy would have still written the Bookend of Destruction but I doubt the retake Mass Effect 3 would have happen.

      Hmm. Am I agreeing with Nick that people care more about emotions than plots even if I think his essays (both the ME3 essay and the Twilight essay) demonstrate that people care more about emotion rather than plot.

    2. If that is the case (if emotions are trully the way the audience care about ANYTHING on a plot) then all i have to do is make a horror movie that screams in your ear for 2 minutes and it will be a success. After all, the audience will be both frightened AND angry for being assaulted by the movie, and since having an emotion is all it takes to be considered good, then the movie acomplished its goal.

      Anyway, the only way they could have an emotion is if they turn off their brains completely, because otherwise the plot holes would diminish any sence of drama inmediately.

      If there is ANY end of the world coming at the 21 of December, its the end the world of storytelling at this point -_-

    3. I wouldn't go that far of having emotions without a plot. There needs to be a pretense of a plot.

      It reminds me of a saying

      Story in a videogame is like story in a porn movie. It’s expected to be there as it wouldn't make sense without one , but it’s not that important.

      There's a trope that summaries it

      Now where I'm leading with this point is that replace gameplay in the 'excuse plot' trope with dramatic scenes and you reach my 'emotional' point of creating story that Smudboy would consider "cheap drama".

      Dramatic scenes by itself wouldn't make sense but if there's an excuse plot there. A fair amount of people would be satisfied with even if the plot is thin.

      As a side note I think it would be an interesting parody film with just a collage of emotional dramatic but unrealted scenes as a deconstruction of this trope.

      I don't think it's possible for a film or story to be mainstream financially blockbuster without the ability to create dramatic scenes. However it's clear that a tight script isn't a prerequisite for mainstream success

      In an ideal world an emotional dramatic scene would be the icing in the cake of a narrative cohesive story but I have feeling that the emotional dramatic scene is the point and the plot is the excuse for it.

      If there is an "success" for the extended cut, it had alot of dramatic emotional scene (farewell to squad mate, joker only abandon shepard after being prompted by your squadmates, funeral scene, epilogue cutscene of united galaxy, krogan babies etc) and some people were satisfied with that. It seems so bizarre that a company like Bioware with their reputation of emotionally dramatic scenes didn't have it in the original ending.

      In any case I agree that it's only dramatic if your brain say it make sense otherwise it seems cheap. However it's an skill that needs to be develop that some people don't have or they deliberately shut off their brain when indulging in storytelling (I know a few intelligent educated people who treat storytelling in movies/games etc as a hobby where they can just relax, turn off their brains and be entertained)

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    5. But why does this happen? why we people become THIS lazy on the stories they read? maybe the real world sucks so hard that we are trying very desperately to pick any drama that could make us fell ANYTHING at all? Its kinda like being in love with a woman that threats you like shit 99% of the time but at least she is good in the bed for 5 minutes. Or like an abused wife that considers ONE act of kindness in YEARS to be PROOF that his husband loves her forever and ever and ever and ever.......

      This is kinda one of my premises for a videogame sequel of a mini series i am making. Where one plot point is that the players themselves are godlike entities that lost their ability to feel due to their assended state as the very thing that mantains existance itself (and that isnt nearly as fun as it sounds). They became so apathetic with their new lives that couldnt feel anything unless they used a proxy, a ficticional being for them to proyect their emotions. And for that, they instructed a "High Priest" Lovecraftian Abomination to use its techno-organic technology to develop powerful and suitable Avatars for them to ASSUME DIRECT CONTROL to "play" with and experience "fun" once again.

      But in the end what would be the point? its not like the audience is going to be smart enough to notice the subtleties and hardwork of a single psychopath in its spare time. You cant even make a tree out of corpses without being yelled "monster", they just dont get my vision.

      Wait....what was i talking about? oh yeah, ME3.

      I wonder how people measure this rushed ending to KOTOR 2 ending. Never played it but i heard that it wrapped things up in the worst way possible but i dont hear people complaining as hard than ME3.

      OT: Have you seen Cabin In The Woods? there is something fishy in that movie. The allegory that the filmaker used is quite bafling and i think it would help us understand how artists see the audience. I find it funny how convenient its timing is, very close to ME3 release, almost like if that movie was the artist answer to the complainers of the ending.

    6. Oh wait, i think i found a reason on Tv Tropes, the "Strawman Has A Point" section:

      "An in-universe example appears in George Orwell's 1984, in the form of Emmanuel Goldstein, a strawman politician invented by the ruling party in order to draw out dissidents. Orwell uses Goldstein in order to set out his own views of totalitarian societies; in the book he is entirely correct, but the authorities do not even try to suppress his message. Instead, they attempt to condition the population into being unable to comprehend an objective reality. "

      Condition them into unable to comprehend an objective reality..........does that sound EXACTLY like "everything is subjective" vibe that is going on lately?? or its just me??

    7. The only reason why everyone believes there's no measure to quality and spouts "everything is subjective" whenever the topic comes up is because they're confused.

      It's easy to make someone confused, especially about things that have to do with art, because for some reason people believe art has abstracted away from itself so far that it no longer has any actual definition and is simply defined by the audience; practically on some kind of "whim." That's why people use it as an excuse to make garbage, maintain a comfortable ignorance, and act like assholes.

      BioWare really milked this one and didn't need to shamelessly pontificate about art and how they understand it better because they support the ending. They just threw the word "art" into the fray and their fans did nearly all of it for them. While I wouldn't go so far as to say it's totalitarian in its design it does still demonstrate there are a great deal of suckers out in the world.

      I'm kind of sick of the "everything is subjective" crap myself. There is a big difference between interpretation and observation, and the fact less and less self-proclaimed "artists" understand this is rather unsettling.

    8. But how did all started? when was the event horizon that made people use the "everything is subjective"? did it came from the same people that said "its just movie" and then infected gamers as well?

      Was it made popular by fans of Twilight? how did this phantom menace (wink wink) survived long enough to be this strong?

  10. Can I just say I love that he opens with: 'I have always been interested in games with story' and then admits to not caring about it that much.

    Thanks for the very entertaining read.

  11. Um, Smud? Hi, it's Terry. From youtube about an hour ago, but you blocked me. Look, I would like to apologize for calling you a hack editor, you're just doing your job.

    After reading this blog to the very first entry, where you said you enjoyed Mass Effect for all it's worth, I have to agree with you: Bioware is just full of hack writers. Yes, I did enjoy the characters and conflict, but dear GOD is it poorly written. But once you get around that, I still enjoy the game.

    I'm just here saying you're right, and I'm sorry.


  12. On a random note, your taste in games please me greatly. Fallout is one of my favorite games of all time.

  13. Alright, last note, I promise.
    I will say this: You seem like a very smart guys that knows what he's talking about (though I don't really like how you call anybody that enjoys Mass Effect is a hack or a moron). I enjoyed the game, but for it's characters. And to be honest, now thinking back, that was all I cared about. I didn't give a shit and a half about the actual reapers or anything like that.

    Well, Smud, you've got yourself a new follower.

  14. Wow I read the comments to that Nick Alimonos guy and wow if he is a writer...Just wow just wow! I'm dumbfounded by his responses to smud...

    ME3 is not a good story period. When you can not follow you own damn lore how in the hell can you consider this a good story? It's beyond absurd and fundamentally wrong...

  15. Wow, the guy won't even allow comments without an approval first.

  16. Here is another coment i'm posting, let's see if he'll be honst enough to accept this one.

    And I suppose this isn't meant to be condescending ?

    "Yes, meaning that they will do something else besides read books. How does that translate to disdain for video games? If I had said, 'They will do something stupid, like play video games' then you would be correct."

    then why didn't you just say they will do something else? Especially when you said earlier you consider games to be inferior story-wise.
    Your sentence doesn't make much sense. Someone who can't get good e-books can still buy a decent book.

    You said most junk novels sell at 0.99 , while better ones sell at 9.99 $ or above. And actual physical books still exist. Your situation isn't worst now. You aren't harder to notice among physical books, even if e-books are full of cheap junk novel.

    Notethough, that some may subjectively not care that much about occasionnal typos and hence disagree with your "junk" novel classification. Especially when this is about the presentation, not the actual story.

    I posted more comment on your other entries denying you asertion about plot holes in the original Star wars trilogy (ie yoda can't throw the death star into a sun because the empire and the engines would counter it) and the lord of the ring (sauron would see the eagles coming that time, and his wyvern-like creatures would intercept them).

    Do you actuaally delete it because of spam or because you don't like it ?

    Nobody educated/sane will agree with methat there are objective qualities to writing ? Are you sur about that ? How about we ask some teachers or professionnals ? Remember that link with Asimov I gave you?

    "To go into the land of fantasy without realising it is insulting to the intelligent writer..."

    You never actually proved writing quality was subjective.

    None of your sentences correspond to what I as arguing. Especially when you mix up tastes/preference and qualities.

    You don't care much about continuity : F (afaik)

    Some stories have better continuity than others. F

    Mass effect 3 (even outside of the ending) has retcons : F

    Hence Mass effect 3 has bad plot continuity, when it contradict earlier lore.

    Consumer who care about consistency won't like Mass effect 3.

    You claim to have studied writing for 30 years. How did you study something that's allegedly subjective ?

  17. I find it baffling that this Nick character can speak knowledgeably about the plot when, by his own admission, he doesn't bother to read the codex and switches his brain off. Yeah, I don't find too many plot holes in books when I only read every third chapter too.