So, my turbulent and ultimately ill-fated love affair with the Mass Effect trilogy is pretty well known at this point. In case you missed all that, you can find info here, here, and here. There are
SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS
about the first three games at all six of those links, by the way. I’ve written about this series a lot, and one of the reasons I love Farscape so much is that it gave me what I was hoping for from Mass Effect, but without the most tragic backstory ever written.
Well, the release of the fourth game in the franchise has been revealed at—where else?—the San Diego Comic Con. I waited with baited breath as I clicked on the link, hoping for a reveal of the future of the universe.
The next game is going to happen concurrently with the events of the last one, ME3. You know, that game. The one that ruined a company’s reputation, earned EA the “Worst Company of the Year” award in 2012, and was universally hailed as a clusterphuque of earthshaking proportions. The original ending was so universally hated, they ended up revamping it with extended narration and explanations of the consequences. More on the extended endings in a minute. But all the phuquerie that resulted from that terrible, cliched, tropey, backstabbing of an ending happened because gamers felt betrayed. I was even one of them, and I shed my tears with the rest. But why? And why did I get a bad case of feels when I finally watched the extended cuts today?
What went wrong?
I’ll try to keep this short because it’s been discussed elsewhere. The problems with the ending boil down to five things.
First, the ending felt too simplistic compared to the complex and multilayered games that preceded it. The endings of the first two games were heavily reliant on previous actions, with Mass Effect 2’s ending being the best example of that. Perhaps all the storylines they had going ended up collapsing on their own weight, but I think most of us expected some sort of large final battle where the results were determined by resources and alliances accrued and accumulated during the rest of the games. That isn’t what happened. Like, at all.
Second, Shepard dies unnecessarily…or lives, if you (possibly) sacrifice all Geth and Synthetic life. I’m not restating that blog post about why hero death is a stupid and borderline unhealthy trope, but here’s another link to it.
Third, the Starchild is a stupid and unnecessary brat with terrible voice acting and worse writing. The Illusive Man, a Geth, EDI herself, a Keeper (you know, those plot device bugs who were never used for anything in spite of substantial build-up in the first games?), or even, why not, the Rachni Queen, would all have been better choices. Sure, you have the little weird kid running around in Shep’s head through the first half of the game, but freaky children are a stupid cliche at best, and it didn’t belong in this game. Add in all the stuff about madness in the excellent DLCs for the series and you have a sinister perspective on the little brat—who, we are somehow supposed to believe, is some kind of peaceful and neutral force. You choose the McGuffin or you epic-fail. I actually love the new fourth ending, but the last time I saw an ending this hamstrung was at a sex show involving bondage and oral pleasure. At least with the “refusal” option, the stupid storytelling bit at the end makes sense.
Fourth, your team crash lands on a random planet for no particular reason. Why? Why did this happen? Why did they get sucked into a portal? Sure, the extended endings fix that up a bit, but why does this even occur?
Fifth, that stupid damn storyteller ending. I love Synthesis, and I can stand Destroy because Shepard lives, but Control always felt evil to me. And yet all three of these end with a stupid cutscene after the credits that even Buzz Aldrin’s cameo couldn’t save. The Starchild voice actor returns (shudder) and an old man tells him he might go to the stars…in a way that implies all knowledge of space travel has been lost. That blatantly contradicts two of the three endings, and worse, the “tell me another story about the Shepard” bit teases us with the false promise of another game about our protagonist. You know, the game they promised they’d never make. This storytelling ending actually makes sense for the Refusal ending, which was the most coherent, but the fact that they left it in the extended endings felt like a slap in the face.
Why are we rehashing all this?
Oh, there’s a reason. The new game will be set at the end of the third. Are they going to retcon the ending? How will they deal with the incredible fame of Shepard’s character if your character is just some scrub? Are you going to have somehow never heard of the most famous person in the galaxy, a.k.a. Space Jesus? It’s going to focus on the multiplayer side of things, sure, but this feels like a stall for time. My partner called it a money-grab, and not the real sequel, and added, “unless I’m absolutely wrong, you can completely ignore this game.” Did I mention that they explicitly promised the next game would be set in the far future?
Okay, fine; how could you possibly fix it?
Just abandoning the series—which would actually be wise—probably isn’t a viable option. A jump backwards in time would have solved a lot of their problems, and quite a few fans have been hoping for something set during the human-Turian First Contact War. Jumping drastically far forward into the future would also be an option.
What I’d love to happen, as much as I will weep angry tears over the impossibility of it, would be a proper exploration of the Synthesis ending. The extended version hints that a golden age was dawning, but change is scary. There’s plenty of conflict you could mine from the sudden friendliness of the Reapers, the ancient technologies gifted to the unprepared galaxy, the fact that all races and species have the possible opportunity to be immortal, and the equalization forced on everyone. Diplomacy games! New wars! Playing as a Reaper! Dealing with grieving! New conflict rising as unknown or rare civilizations are encountered! Religious conflict! All the ingredients of amazing story potentials are right there, and there is no way we’ll get to play with those toys.
Synthesis in a nutshell.
The lesson in all of this is that creating a series is hard, and kind of dangerous. It’s hard to please fans at the best of times, but the more complicated your world gets and the more plot devices and plotlines you pile on, the easier it is to screw them up. Terry Goodkind’s The Sword of Truth series is the only one even close to Mass Effect in terms of McGuffin implosions, and that was a mess too. The lesson is that introducing endless plot mechanics and shiny toys is a bad idea. And sometimes, you just have to pretend something didn’t happen and move forward with the story instead of trying to fix an old problem that’s basically unrepairable. Writing is not always fun and it’s rarely “easy”, but at least we can learn from the failures of others.
What would be some hilarious (My) Immortal The Web Series aus?
Set in Forks Washington. Enoby meeting Bella Swan would be glorious.
"You’re impossibly dark… And mysterious… Your skin is… pale white and…
CAN WE PLEASE PLEASE HAVE THIS
2014: the year celeb ladies stopped putting up with media bullshit and it was beautiful
Always reblog this. ALWAYS.
According to “Joss Whedon: The Biography,” in stores August 1, Hiddleston, who plays antihero Loki in the film, wrote Whedon a heartfelt email after reading Whedon’s draft for the first time.
We’ve published Hiddleston’s letter in full along with Whedon’s response with permission from Chicago Review Press below.
I am so excited I can hardly speak.
The first time I read it I grabbed at it like Charlie Bucket snatching for a golden ticket somewhere behind the chocolate in the wrapper of a Wonka Bar. I didn’t know where to start. Like a classic actor I jumped in looking for LOKI on every page, jumping back and forth, reading words in no particular order, utterances imprinting themselves like flash-cuts of newspaper headlines in my mind: “real menace”; “field of obeisance”; “discontented, nothing is enough”; “his smile is nothing but a glimpse of his skull“; “Puny god” …
… Thank you for writing me my Hans Gruber. But a Hans Gruber with super-magic powers. As played by James Mason … It’s high operatic villainy alongside detached throwaway tongue-in-cheek; plus the “real menace” and his closely guarded suitcase of pain. It’s grand and epic and majestic and poetic and lyrical and wicked and rich and badass and might possibly be the most gloriously fun part I’ve ever stared down the barrel of playing. It is just so juicy.
I love how throughout you continue to put Loki on some kind of pedestal of regal magnificence and then consistently tear him down. He gets battered, punched, blasted, side-swiped, roared at, sent tumbling on his back, and every time he gets back up smiling, wickedly, never for a second losing his eloquence, style, wit, self-aggrandisement or grandeur, and you never send him up or deny him his real intelligence…. That he loves to make an entrance; that he has a taste for the grand gesture, the big speech, the spectacle. I might be biased, but I do feel as though you have written me the coolest part.
… But really I’m just sending you a transatlantic shout-out and fist-bump, things that traditionally British actors probably don’t do. It’s epic.
Whedon wrote back with a simplistic response:
Tom, this is one of those emails you keep forever. Thanks so much. It’s more articulate (and possibly longer) than the script. I couldn’t be more pleased at your reaction, but I’ll also tell you I’m still working on it … Thank you again. I’m so glad you’re pleased. Absurd fun to ensue.
Best, (including uncharacteristic fist bump), joss.
Do you recall how we came to this place? And they sang of their lightnings and shapeful disgrace? I do. And so much more…
The tale of Mr Eaten is a long and sad one indeed. There is, ah, a lot more to it than just falling down a well. It’s possibly one of the more important events in Neathy history, with roots that possibly trail back to before the Bazaar’s presence in the Neath. Unfortunately, a lot of the information is contained within the hellish difficult (and hiatused) Seeking storyline, but with more accessible bits here and there (for instance, at Christmas).
Even with SMEN getting as far as 6/7 candles before the hiatus, there’s still a lot that’s uncertain or unknown (we may forever wonder what Winking Isle’s final secrets are). As such, expect hefty speculations and possible mistakes here and there, though I will try to give the best account possible. This is, after all, a topic of particular interest to me.
*An update has occurred! Read the creator’s own words about this.*
When Mr Eaten Goes Away: An Epilogue of Deeper Misfortune
There has been an unexpected twist in Mr Eaten’s tale, and it brings great sorrow to all. For reasons I will not go into here, the writer of the Mr Eaten’s Name content was forced to reconsider his approach. As such, all things related to the Name have been sequestered, pending review. I cannot say what changes may occur. They may be tumultuous, or minor; what I can say, is that I believe Mr. Kennedy will do everything he can to continue, and I do not begrudge him the time he takes to deliberate.
All shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well. That was the promise.
And sometimes, so it is.
About a week ago, Fallen London released a new feature: the ability to send calling cards to your contacts. I was one of the first to discover this, but I couldn’t possibly have known just how important it would turn out to be.
Below I have attempted to render a faithful account of these portentous events. This is the story of how I went where no other had before, and where, it may be, that no other will again. Forgive my tendency for grandiloquence, and read on, all ye Seekers…