Sunday, 26 January 2014

Analysis of ME3V

tl;dr: A long pile of crap.

Read Mass Effect 3: Vindication, or ME3:V, if you want to know why (again) ME3's ending is still the worst ending ever.

Fan fiction is fun. It's mostly crap, but people do it because they like the characters of their favorite story so much, or their plots, and want the story to go in their own way. Or they just like writing porn.

The ME3:V PDF, by Gerry Pugliese, is that, and something else. It's similar to what I did in my Fixing ME2 videos with a few other fanboys. It's subjective. But, I was sure that what I and the others involved were coming up with didn't have errors in writing, like in composition, characterization, plot, plot progression, etc.

So as someone who spent a lot of time doing a re-write, or editing and reading in general, I was greatly disappointed with Mr. Pugliese's ideas; not to their quality or creativity; admittedly, many are juvenile (we're talking about Bioware here), but more to the lack of fixes, and the new (and old) problems they create. Simply put: one does not fill in holes with holes.

His PDF got attention since it was ridiculously huge (539 pages), and posted on news sites with interviews. (Well, good for his 5 minutes of fame. The Bioware super-fan train continues.) This makes me sad to see someone spending all this time writing poor fan fiction...when they admittedly could've been making their own creative endeavor, like, their own game (which I think was the point of making ME3V, for potential employers to be impressed by his attention to detail? Something similar is stated in his Introduction section.)

Anyway, let's get to it before I sound hypocritical over my obsession of critical analysis of storytelling.

The good
-No Crucible choice. The ending is automatically determined by the Paragon/Renegade score, and EMS. Synthesis is less than 85% either way (so, basically a 70% chance of getting Synthesis if you didn't go pure Renegade/Paragon.)
-Removing of the Starchild Catalyst (like that was a hard decision.)
-Changing some of the myriad of Legion issues (there're so many, but he got the general idea.)
-Involving Gianna Parasini in any way.
-Having Khalisah al-Jilani as an optional, selectable reporter, instead of just Allers.
-Talking to another Vigil.
-No dying breath scene in the new high EMS (Alpha) Destroy endings.
-Extended epilogues of most things.
-Generally more detailed endings (if that's of any value to warned.)
--Destroy is Paragon. Control is the Renegade ending, with all the galactic-political-absolute-cyber-power that it involves (which is insane-bad, but hey, that's what it is.)
-There's also a fight/boss scene between a possessed Harbinger/Illusive Man/something, which I guess is good if people wanted a boss scene at the end.

Everything else is pretty much typical-fan-level-poor, or tries to work with ME3's elements of "The Unworkable" that shouldn't have seen the light of day. With a huge amount of juvenile romance details, and other useless fluff. Remember: Bioware fan.

The bad
-Fixing a creating more problems (No Starchild good...replacing it with a retarded Vigil? If you're going to rip off ME1, do it right. Ditto with the ending re-writes. Notably, removing the Crucible choice and making the ending automatic, without explaining how or why.)
-Bothering to have all kinds of time devoted to new romances and romance re-writes
-Bothering to give Jacob a different story/side mission (who the hell cares about Jacob?)
-Bothering to give Morinth a different story (instead of impersonating Samara, but instead, trying to kill Sha'ira...why? Who cares?)
-Not bothering to re-write/fix Samara/Ardat-Yakshi/Morinth backstory lore in any way (yet give Morinth a meaningless role which may get a holovid of Morinth calling Shepard her "pet"?)
-Bothering to give Jack slightly more screen time (if she's captured by Cerberus, turned into a trooper...she gets a few seconds of some "death rattle" dialog.)
-Weak/irrelevant Rachni re-write and epilogue (despite this being the supposedly biggest choice in the game that still has 0 payoff.)
-No Leviathan re-write (it gets a cutscene of it fighting a Reaper and committing suicide near the end...yay?)
-No Shiala re-write (hello...indoctrination cure, anyone? Romance? Organic hive mind insta-Asari-Commando unit? This would've made a seemingly insignificant choice in ME1 be potentially largely important, but again, wasted.)
-Not bothering to remove the Crucible (and instead, expand on the whole EMS/Catalyst nonsense.)
-Not bothering to remove/fix the rest of the nonsense that came with the Crucible, and instead doubling down on it.
-Not bothering to make Zaeed awesome.
-Not bothering to remove/condemn anything with the words "Citadel DLC" associated with it.
-A Kelly foursome. Seriously. (Nothing good can ever come from "Citadel DlC".)
-If your EMS is too low, Harbinger's laser just kills Shepard at the beam run...BWAHAHA! Because we all know getting a bunch of reporters and soldiers (+1000 EMS or something) prevents a Reaper from fixing his death laser (oh...right...Extended Cut writing edits? What are those?)
-Instead of high, medium and low EMS scores, there's now Alpha, Beta, Delta (1/2) and...Zeta...scores...?
-Falare's high EMS epilogue involves...remaining (and surviving) at the (Reaper infested semi-destroyed) monastery (how?)
-Synthesis is still the godawful nightmare/Hell on the Galaxy as it was before, complete with an eternal purgatory of homogenous-green-glowing-everything (including a green-glowing Tali wedding dress, if you romanced her. Or Morinth...exploding? Why/how/WTF? Or Reapers, with their super-intelligence, not giving a crap/realizing that Synthesis was achievable with magic green shit...well, not much different from the original, there.)
-The Control ending is 10x more insane than vanilla ME3...but probably because he went into detail with the epilogues. (Though still only half as frightening as Synthesis.) Now, it's not Gerry's fault on using this, but why he didn't just remove it?  Ugh. Think Dune on techno-immortal-hive-mind-space-emperor-eternal-super-nightmare-crack. Only every squad mate you kept alive and romanced Praises Allah/The Shepard for His/Her Glorious Birth, and gives the same stock message. And the fan art shows some pretty horrific Cyber-Jaws (James Bond Jaws) version of the character. If not, they either die, go missing or no story of what happens to them is told...yeah, great closure there. (The Allers Romance/Control ending does actually give her a personality, however...still, Jacob isn't improved.)
-The Delta endings are just brutal/short/bad, as they deal with low EMS. May as well just tell the audience "You suck x3, but at least you're not an eternal galactic cyber-warlord/combined your beta-male DNA with everything." And the Control/Delta ending is just...stupid! Nothing changes! It is the stupid version of Extended Cut DLC Control ending. Reapers will just...come back again? I guess the Crucible short circuited without all that reporter EMS values to grant Shepard Absolute Godhood? So Shepard can now repeat the cycle? What?

Interesting but lame (and then soul wrenching)
-Involving Gianna Parasini, but making it pointlessly dull, and giving her a fiancé (...yet you can romance Khalisah al-Jilani? WTF?) Gianna had romantic inklings...but it goes nowhere, as she got a fiancé. (Chekov's gun got unloaded?) Why? Why would you want to turn Gianna, an interesting character into...Jacob? In my video series, I talked about how it would've been awesome to have Khalisah on board the Normandy, or even if they didn't kill off Emily Wong in Twitter to make her an option, but his interpretation of getting Khalisah still amounts to the Chakwas/Michel choice of...just another Allers. Who gives a flip?)

Not worthwhile (and completely forgetting someone...)
-Making Khalisah al-Jilani romanceable.
-Making Khalisah al-Jilani interviews/choices be completely pointless (did we learn nothing from Allers? And what the hell happened to Shiala? Why the hell would Shepard be interested in Khalisah? Why would Khalisah be intersted in Shepard, especially if he possibly punched her out twice (3 in ME3) throughout the series? Clearly, punching a girl in the face every time you see her is a recipe for romance...)

-Having Vigil (Ksad Ishan) be the VI we encounter instead of the Catalyst
-Making Shepard the Catalyst

The bad Part 2
-1) Not explaining where the hell Ksad Ishan VI came from (yes, we know it's the Citadel and Ksad Ishan died on it, made a VI...but why reveal himself now? What was the holdup all this time? In a conversation, the VI explains it wouldn't be activated if indoctrinated forces were when Sovereign for the other 49,999 years it slept? Why? How about the Keepers, weren't they indoctrinated, and always on the Citadel? Yet now it's somehow awake...when the Reapers are now in control of the Citadel? What? So asleep for Sovereign, awake for the whole damn Reaper fleet? Why didn't it start communicating when explorers first discovered the Citadel? Trying to fix the Catalyst problem (Sovereign) by simply giving it another name, doesn't solve the damn problem!)
-2) Making Shepard as the Catalyst. Interesting idea, ridiculous explanation:

Ksad Ishan VI
“You, Commander Shepard, are the Catalyst.”
Ksad Ishan VI
“As the first organic ever to reach this point, your actions alone will set in motion the fate of the entire Galaxy…that is by very definition a ‘catalyst.’” what?

The Catalyst, and all the mystery of what it is, to be, is just a...title?
-Then why did the plans for the Crucible and Vendetta mention it? That's like saying "We need a project manager/producer in order for our secret-experimental-science project to be successful! Let's call them...The Catalyst! Even though the Crucible can fire itself, we'll just allude to the need for a useless person to make it work! It's brilliant! We'll ensure future generations...if they even discover this data...will be totally confused!) Why even have the conversation with the VI and Shepard?
-It's not a physical component of making the Crucible fire. It's a build up to try and make Shepard "be special." Thanks, but if that's all, it's a waste. It has no payoff, meaning or value to anything. You don't ruin the sense of mystery in a story like that. It's almost as insulting as a little child telling us to...
-3) The explanation for why the game chooses Destroy/Synthesis/Control...just because the Ksad Ishan VI says so...? With EMS being equal, if this is based on the Paragon/Renegade score, why would the Ksad Ishan VI dialogue be different if there are three options? Why would the function of the Crucible be different? (Sorry Gerry, I understand what you intended to do, but you're doing it wrong.) I thought the "Catalyst" was just a title? Why can Shepard only touch the "green touch plates" and not the red ones? How does the Crucible know Shepard's "morality"? Aren't there just buttons on the thing? What does Shepard's morality have to do with not-optionally pressing a series of different colored buttons? The choices throughout the first 2 games and this one don't impact the shape or plans of the Crucible in any way aside from is this possible?
-3a) Why would Ksad Ishan VI want to merge Shepard's genetic code with the Crucible in Synthesis? WTF? It's the same stupid reasoning from the ME3 Catalyst. His explanation is equally vapid:

“Destroying the Reapers is not possible, Commander. You fight, just as the Protheans did, but you will fail, like the countless cycles before you.”
“To end the war, to cease the harvests; the merging of all life, organic and synthetic, is required – a new DNA.”
“I don’t understand.”

And you can of course, disagree with the Ksad Ishan VI nonsense. And what happens?

Note: This triggers the Liara-reject cut-scene, ensuing as scripted in the Extended Cut DLC.

Wow. Way to go, Gerry!

Dear Mr. Pugliese,

You do not edit bullshit; it is un-fixable. You simply remove it.
If one truly wanted to make a ME3 fan fiction re-write, simply remove all the crap of the beginning and ending of the ME3 story. Don't keep crap, and don't replace things with others that make the exact same mistakes (most notably, the Crucible, Catalyst, and the endings.)

Once you have your own solid, understood ideas, have people re-read and edit these ideas to death -- not just on their creative or interesting qualities -- to ensure that there are at least no obvious holes in them. Hopefully ask at least two people who know and don't know how to edit (preferably a fan of science fiction who doesn't know a thing about Bioware, and a lore guru/super-fan who can correct you.)

That's generally how it works.

ME3V is a fans' attempt to make things not suck, by replacing them with things that suck less (and more in some cases.) Now, anything is better than the ending of ME3...except a more detailed version of the same crap. Which is what ME3V is.

So, thank you, Gerry, for describing the shape, color and flavor of the multicolored shit that was ME3's ending, by giving us more colors, and bigger pieces of exposition of it. (Oh god, those Control drawings!)

Did you romance Kelly? Did you get the Citadel DLC? Do you like foursomes? Are you a Renegade? Well, you're gonna love the best Alpha-Control ending you get in ME3V.


  1. Yeah, ME3 sucked alright... why anyone would even bother writing 539 pages (holy friggin fuck! o_O) about this, is just beyond me. I respect the effort and all, but it just seems so pointless. The only way to make this story good is to rewrite so much of it that it wouldn't even resemble Mass Effect 3 at all anymore. Plus, you'd have to rewrite much of ME2's story as well.

    Noe here's what you could do: take everything that is good in ME3 --> Rannoch, Tuchanka... ähm... what else... hmm, OH the Quest with Jack... and that's about it. Then write an entirely new ME story and try to implement the obove mentioned bits, because it would be a shame to ditch them. I guess the Quest where you meet Garrus is passable as well.

    1. "Yeah, ME3 sucked alright... why anyone would even bother writing 539 pages (holy friggin fuck! o_O) about this, is just beyond me."

      NONSENSE! There should be a documentary ala "The People Vs George Lucas", a trial for crimes against humanity, and an apology by RE-baking ALL the cupcakes they ate. The war against ME3 shall never end! YA HEAR? NEVAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA-

      "take everything that is good in ME3 --> Rannoch"
      ...nnnnnnnno. Rannoch was a little forced with its hammering of "Quarian= evil assholes who almost leave you for dead. Geth= poor innocents of war and misunderstanding that wouldn't hurt a fly" that made the choice in the end a little bit one sided. Except maybe for the people who have a boner for Tali and want her to live (Sorry Geth. My boner speaks and i humbly obey)

      Wait a minute. Why i am trying to fix ME3? i am supposed to pick up the left overs of the "artistic ruins" of Bioware and shape it into something more useful for me. Like the ingredients for a successor Villain Protagonist.

  2. Well, that saves me having to read 539 pages of the bizarre and pointless. I'd write something myself, but then again I'd probably be doing it for my own personal satisfaction and it'd never see the light of the internet.

    I do agree with you on Zaeed, however. If I had my way and was able to have complete creative control of an HBO-type Mass Effect series, Zaeed would be one of the main characters from 2 onwards. Anyway, I should let you go...

  3. Well said. Here are my thoughts, posted from another source and edited to fit.

    I'm afraid I agree [that the author has the diction of an 18-year-old fanboy and the enthusiasm of 10-year-old fanboy]. Like Citadel (ironic, given that he doesn't seem to care for it), many parts of it are way too concerned with "winking at the camera" and providing fanwankery than they are being practical improvements, especially in regards to major character changes (and a lot of them don't make a lot of sense. Does anyone actually see a Leviathan nobly sacrificing itself, given what we know of them?). However, the biggest problem is that, for the large number of changes, he doesn't want to change any part of Mass Effect 3's foundations, so the Crucible and all its idiocy (especially EMS, which this fan-edit just makes even more arbitrary) remain as they are.

    Rule of Cool is deliberately invoked. There are a handful of changes / additions made where his only justification is "this sounds awesome". And the changes to the ending are incredibly curious, because one would think that re-writing the whole EMS values hierarchy (and expanding it to 5-6 permutations of Priority Earth) would give you an excuse to rewrite the ending. Instead, he sticks with pretty much the same ending we have now except it's delivered by a Prothean VI (a new one that was apparently on the Citadel the whole time, not Vendetta). Maybe I'm just incredibly hard to please, but this really doesn't fix the ending at all, and it certainly doesn't vindicate it. There's also a nice bit of IT-based morality where Control is definitely a renegade option because "TIM wanted it" while Destroy is paragon because "Anderson wanted it", ignoring any actual moral exploration in favor of the Mass Effect version of Hitler Ate Sugar. I only mention this because in his ending, the game chooses the ending for you based on your paragon/renegade score and that's how it's aligned. It also happens to make Synthesis the most likely ending unless you play primarily paragon or renegade throughout the game, undoing a lot of what ME3 tried to do with the grouped Reputation bar.

    That being said, this must have been a tremendous undertaking. Plus, some ideas would've better respected player choice than ME3 (you'd be hard-pressed to do worse than ME3 did in most areas, of course... and this doesn't even take into account that a lot of these ideas are probably impractical from the perspective of AAA game design). Still, I love the idea of significant gameplay changes occurring based on player choice in addition to story changes, and some of the small touches are nice and would've added a lot to the game, though I definitely wouldn't have tied something as significant as an entire enemy class to an ME1 sidequest, even one that will show off this new enemy in a default playthrough.

    It's an elaborate and ambitious project to be certain, but it's also the purest definition of adding more deckchairs.

    1. "However, the biggest problem is that, for the large number of changes, he doesn't want to change any part of Mass Effect 3's foundations, so the Crucible and all its idiocy (especially EMS, which this fan-edit just makes even more arbitrary) remain as they are."

      Most likely is there because the fan was told over and over that changing Bioware's precious vision would "RUIN VIDEOGAMES AS AN ARTFORM FOREVER!" and all that shit. So he tried to keep the "vision*" because it is really important.....for some reason that the writers are never going to discuss.

      Its the same shit as always. People claiming that this "Arty effort**" is worth preserving cause its "SPESHUM" (Special. The official pronunciation provided by Twilight fangirls when referring to Bella Swan), without providing facts as for why this cancerous tumor should be even be allowed. Poor guy is being forced to work around these.

      Ooooooooor, it could be he is a gamer that likes the Self Imposed Challenge stuff, and WANTED to prove his writing skills by trying to survive a round of Shitty Pretentious Writing 101 on purpose. He knew it was stupid to work WITH there shit, but did it anyway cause FUCK YEAH!

      *Whatever that means at this point. Specially with those 2 idiots doing it without the input of the others, and Drew Karpyshyn gone.

      **BTW, there are not enough quotations on those words. A Googolplex wouldn't be enough.

    2. Well, both of those options are far more optimistic than my theory: coming up with new ending scenarios that doesn't just boil down to MEHEM would've required a lot more work, and that it was just easier to add superfluous stuff than to make any significant changes.

      In my many ponderings of how I'd "fix" ME3 without going into full fairy-tale level (ergo, two separate games depending on the end choice of ME2), one of the first things I did was completely rip out its foundations. I reworked the Crucible and EMS, which also required having to reconsider how War Assets are set up, which lead me to consider how gathering these assets would change based on player choice, which in turn required me to have to consider how this all would add up in the end-game so it wouldn't turn out meaningless... ergo, how ME3 ended up.

      Even without the concept art and copy-pasted epilogues, this thing is over 400 pages long and (apparently) a great deal of time. And this is all basically augmentations to the ME3 we have. I can't imagine how big it'd be if there were genuine alterations to the story and gameplay.

    3. Aside from what Koobismo is doing, I always thought this example was the best example of "fixing" the ending.

  4. two things, after reading the details of what was read I can only say wat, really it fried my brain so much that I can not understand anything, is the sky still only blue due to a reflection of light? (THE WORK HAS 539 PAGES!? Are you on the verge of ripping out your own brain and scrubbing it?) And secondly, yes we are back to criticism of plots, finally.

  5. "Preferably a fan of science fiction who doesn't know a thing about Bioware, and a lore guru/super-fan who can correct you."

    Preferably a Science Fiction fan who reads Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine, and play clasic videogames based on his work like.....ehm...Kayleth for the ZX Spectrum?

  6. I personally think it wasn't that good either. However, He did tremendous efforts into bringing that thing to life. While i agree on not removing The Crucible or The Catalyst, I still think it could be driven from a whole another point of the story which relates to ME1 and ME2 unaddressed Plotholes. I'm a 6 months old mass effect fan and I'm rewriting Mass Effect 3 ending currently into something that i think would do it. I have a big scheme rather than just writing the ending, But for now, I will let you know once i publish it.