How to Not Piss Off Your Readers

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Kyonko802
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How to Not Piss Off Your Readers

#1 Post by Kyonko802 » Fri Mar 23, 2012 12:04 am

I've been away for a while taking a break from Yukionna, but I'm back and cranking out some words now.

You might be wondering what this break was about.

I'd be lying if I told you I wasn't spending all my time playing Mass Effect in the little breaks I got between twelve hour shifts.

Now before you tell me to take this post to the Anime, Games and Japan forum, take heed, this is a thread about writing.

And writing it shall be about.

Now... erm...

Anyways... yeah...

I'm sure I'm not the only one in this forum that has played Mass Effect, but just for disclaimer's sake there will be spoilers for the third installment in this post. I will be using these spoilers as examples, as in I will haul them onto a stage and gut them to an audience of medieval peasants throwing rocks at the offender and screaming "KILL KILL!"

Maybe I went a bit far with that metaphor, but you'll understand if you've played Mass Effect 3 and beaten it.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I bring you much tips yes please.

By now everyone and their mother has beaten ME3, and is quite irate about the endings... or lack thereof.

These endings are shoddily written, full of plot holes twice the size of the hole the ice berg tore in the titanic, and they don't feel like they belong in a game as excellent as Mass Effect 3 or its predecessors.

Welcome to my list.

The First Plot Hole: Circular Logic

The first nonsensical thing that happens is at the end of it all. Now I know some of you reading this may not have played, so let me give the short version. You play as Commander Shepard in a shooter/RPG hybrid. The main enemies are giant sentient Cthulhu spaceships called Reapers that murder and harvest organic life every 50,000 years.

Why? We don't know, maybe they just like the sound of us screaming, but I'll get to that soon.

You build the super weapon in the third one, which IS kinda Deus Ex Machina, but it's excusable and works itself into the plot without shoving aside other things that matter.

At the end, the mentor character, Anderson, bites the dust, and Shepard, wounded and wobbly from an earlier Reaper attack, struggles to activate the super weapon, which isn't firing like it's supposed to.

Shep passes out...

And everything from this point forward is complete and utter bullshit.

Shep gets taken up by some random elevator of light to the center of the gigantic Citadel he is on, and we are introduced to an AI that claims to control the Reapers, and its reasons for exterminating organic life are that every once in a while Organics create robots and are killed by those robots.

Doesn't sound stupid enough?

That plot was used in Terminator right?

Yeah, and then you remind yourself that the REAPERS are ROBOTS that kill ALL space faring organic life every 50,000 years.

So... let's follow this line of logic.

To prevent organics from being killed by robots, robots come and kill them every 50,000 years.

NEVER give your antagonist a rushed reason for doing what he does. Always think it out.

Why is my bad guy doing these things? Is he psychotic? Did he lose his mind because his wife was taken from him violently? Is he doing it for the greater good? Does he get off on hurting people?

Or maybe, maybe the sentient space Cthulu's are killing us all for something that makes sense, that humanity would never accept without a fight, kinda like Gurren Lagann, I would have accepted that.

But no.

Reapers kill us every 50,000 years to prevent some other robots from killing us.

Maybe they're just yandere for organic life.

"No one else can kill you but me Humanity, I love you just that much, will you stay with me until your 50,000 years are up?"

Yandere Reapers would have been a helluva lot better than what Bioware gave us.

Never, ever ever EVER give your characters flimsy motivation. If someone is important in your story give them a background. The only time a character should be having circular logic or flat motives is if its a parody. If a writer pulls a stunt like this it makes their work laughable, and it makes it look like they ran out of time and couldn't think of anything else before they rushed their product out the door.

I would never do this disservice to my characters, and you shouldn't either dear readers.

The Second Plot Hole: OOC Main Character

Okay, granted, this is an RPG, you make choices, you play a role, YOU decide how your Shepard acts and what his motives are for saving the galaxy.

However, there is a certain responsibility that comes with this.

For three games we have shaped our Shepards into heroes of justice that never give up, or ruthless space agents that don't take crap from anyone, hell we've even taken the two sides of that coin and put them in various blenders.

But not once, not ever, has Shepard ever given in or accepted the fate that the Reapers force upon the galaxy.

This is the one constant.

No matter how you play your Shepard he never gives up.

He gets worn down, sometimes maybe even loses a little hope, but he never gives up.

Not.

Once.

Yet when this AI tells him he has limited choices to find a solution to the organic vs. robot problem, he says nothing.

He just accepts it.

There is no third option to take.

This is a huge mistake with the narrative. Mass Effect is about overcoming insurmountable odds, among this narrative the ending feels lazy and out of place, and Shepard not acting like a shepherd is the icing on the cake.

If you have a narrative try and stick with it.

That's not to say you can't have cute things in a horror story, or you can't have happiness in something that's usually depressing, just make sure your ending and climaxes aren't a complete betrayal of your established groundwork.

ME was never about humans vs. robots, it was about the power of friendship... no I'm completely serious here, it really was.

If I took Yukionna, a romance about a guy and a ghost hunting the creepies of the night, and it suddenly shifted axis into a harem VN, the result would be disgusting and out of place.

Narrative is what matters dear reader, narrative is your God, and your characters are its subjects.

Final Plot Hole: The Shoddy Groundwork

The ending is happening, and suddenly the dialogue doesn't sound right. It sounds like someone was on their last leg of writing and wanted to just be friggin' done with it already.

This one will be short.

Give your work the love it deserves.

When you get to that last 10% don't rush things so you can get it out there for people to read, this is the worst thing you could do.

Every moment of you creating whatever it is your creating should be filled with love for your work and your audience.

This is the point of writing.

As writers, we are attention whores, and we love it when people praise us.

The best thing we could do for ourselves is to EARN that praise.

Dear reader, never cheat your audience, always give them your best, and they will know it, and they will love you for it.

Anyways, that's about the close for me.

I didn't even cover half of the stuff wrong with the ME3 ending, just the stuff that I could weave into a lesson about writing.

Just trust me when I say don't do what Bioware did.

Never sell yourself short when you know you can do better.
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Re: How to Not Piss Off Your Readers

#2 Post by Samu-kun » Fri Mar 23, 2012 12:54 am

Ya know....

I just think the whole thing's a plot to sell an expansion pack DLC which purports to give the "true ending." And then once the DLC comes out, it's just going to be even more confusing then the last one and won't leave anyone with answers. And then they'll probably make another Mass Effect game and everyone will buy it anyways and think it's the greatest thing in the world!

And now I feel the need to make a Gainax reference.

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Re: How to Not Piss Off Your Readers

#3 Post by Kyonko802 » Fri Mar 23, 2012 1:24 am

I'm not buying it anyways.

I enjoyed the game, and I can put my own endings to paper.

Honestly though, EA is evil, but they're to retarded to pull something that smart and devious.

Bioware really thought the ending was good, which baffles me even more, Any writer worth his salt can see how crap it is.
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Re: How to Not Piss Off Your Readers

#4 Post by Dakishimete » Sat Mar 24, 2012 5:27 pm

Wao, so even on lemmasoft people get angry at BioWare. I skipped writing to play too. There are a lot of ways to piss of the player, the point is why you're doing it. If the game has to end one way because of the meaning, ideals it's supposed to have, it's okay to ignore the player's choices. ME3 could end other way, so it seems just like they wanted to end it with a boom, but had no more explosive materials.

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Re: How to Not Piss Off Your Readers

#5 Post by LVUER » Sat Mar 24, 2012 9:59 pm

I thought people is angry with ME3 ending is because you have no control over the endings (which is very surprising considering how the main game is loaded with tons of choices. And because the "real" ending is going to be in DLC, not the disc itself.
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Re: How to Not Piss Off Your Readers

#6 Post by papillon » Sat Mar 24, 2012 11:00 pm

Ask different people, you'll get different answers. Some people felt very railroaded by the ending (which DOES contain a choice, but the choice appears to make almost no difference.)

Some people were absolutely dead certain that the on-game ending was an intentional fake and the real ending would come later.

Others are certain that the on-game ending was real and the promised DLC is Bioware wussing out and caving to pressure.

I haven't played the game, I just enjoy reading the drama. :)

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Re: How to Not Piss Off Your Readers

#7 Post by MoPark » Tue Mar 27, 2012 12:56 am

My understanding, having never played any of the games and only reading what some people said, is that the ending's whole "not very different regardless of branching options prior" was sort of a metaphor for life in that, regardless of what you do, there's only one ending for you as an organism anyway.

...or something to that effect. Clearly if that was the point they did it wrong given the amount of rage, but I can't really 100% comment on it myself. : P

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Re: How to Not Piss Off Your Readers

#8 Post by Greeny » Tue Mar 27, 2012 1:24 am

The lack of variation wasn't the biggest problem, the biggest problem was the complete plothole overload.


On the upside, there's no shortage of ME3 ending jokes.
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Re: How to Not Piss Off Your Readers

#9 Post by LateWhiteRabbit » Tue Mar 27, 2012 1:26 am

papillon wrote:Ask different people, you'll get different answers. Some people felt very railroaded by the ending (which DOES contain a choice, but the choice appears to make almost no difference.)

Some people were absolutely dead certain that the on-game ending was an intentional fake and the real ending would come later.

Others are certain that the on-game ending was real and the promised DLC is Bioware wussing out and caving to pressure.

I haven't played the game, I just enjoy reading the drama. :)
I think a lot of the outrage comes from the brevity of the endings as well. You basically get an explosion - red, green, or blue - and then a 30 second scene. Then after the credits you get another 30 second scene. I think a lot of gamers were pissed off because, regardless of the content of the endings, a saga and story 90+ hours long spread across 3 games wraps things up in 2 minutes. Most everyone was looking forward to an extended ending sequence that tells what happens to the galaxy, where all your surviving crew ended up, how your choices mattered, how people remember Shepard, etc. Replacing all that with an explosion just seemed . . . wrong.

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Re: How to Not Piss Off Your Readers

#10 Post by Mink » Thu Mar 29, 2012 3:15 pm

From what I know about Mass Effect (despite having not played it), what I was told, and what I read, I think I'd feel cheated by the endings, too. On the bright side, I have yet to play any of them though Garrus makes me want to, so I have no personal investment, crappy ending or not! 8D

Actually, I'm kind of like, "Lolwut" about the Reapers' motivation. I mean, it's sort of like in The Day The Earth Stood Still (the original),
the aliens threaten to kill humanity if humanity doesn't stop killing each other.
Or in The Abyss, where
the aliens apparently want to kill humans because humans are violent.
...It's just kind of hypocritical, is what I'm saying. I was nice and put spoilers, despite the fact those movies are old. 8|

Now, let's see if the new...Devil May Cry...will make me scream, "BETRAYAL!!" when it comes out.*

*Seriously, even if the game itself turns out super duper amazing, I will still maintain that character design is terrible
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Re: How to Not Piss Off Your Readers

#11 Post by DaFool » Wed Apr 04, 2012 2:06 pm

Re: Rage at Bioware for ME3 ending schadenfreude, haha.

I remember when Bioware trash-talked on JRPGs. Well now we have recent JRPGs Xenoblade Chronicles and Tales of Graces F, among the best recent games. I can't speak of the former, but for the latter not only did you get an ending, you even get the extended bonus campaign with bonus dungeons and continuation of the story. Now that's the way to reward your players.

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Re: How to Not Piss Off Your Readers

#12 Post by LVUER » Wed Apr 04, 2012 6:08 pm

DaFool wrote:... I can't speak of the former, but for the latter not only did you get an ending, you even get the extended bonus campaign with bonus dungeons and continuation of the story. Now that's the way to reward your players.
As long as they don't cut away the main game. I haven't play Tales of Grace F, but Tales of Legendia also have "after-the-main-story" extended play (kinda like epilogue, a big one). The problem is that Legendia is THE SHORTEST Tales game I've played to date.
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Re: How to Not Piss Off Your Readers

#13 Post by bellice » Mon Apr 09, 2012 7:12 am

Honestly, I played all three ME games and love every single one of it to pieces...and I'm not pissed off by the ending. Sure, it could be expanded upon, but in the end, I thought it was fitting.
We all knew Shep wouldn't survive this. Or at least I did.
The ending was horribly depressing, though. Fitting, but depressing.

Frankly, I'm more pissed off at the romance choices (or lack thereof) for FemShep. Just look at the Mass Effect Romance Wiki Page. ManShep has 5 romances that only he can have, while FemShep only has two. (every other guy dies or moves on)
And the only gay options for her are either the annoying blue alien or the unimportant side character you don't get to know till ME 3. At least ManShep got Kaidan in ME3!

Considering that Tali also hooked up with Garrus in the end and effectively broke my poor, lost FemShep's heart...well, my FemShep pretty much had the suckiest life ever and in the end died just as alone as she started out. THAT'S what bugged me about the game/ending.
The big damn hero with a heart of gold, who sacrificed EVERYTHING to save the galaxy (her happiness among them) dies a lonely death somewhere in space....again.
...Okay, so maybe the ending did piss me off.
(Sorry for venting. :oops: )

EDIT: Sorry for not putting a Spoiler up before. I sometimes forget that not everyone plays through a game like Mass Effect in two days. ;)
Last edited by bellice on Mon Apr 09, 2012 9:59 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: How to Not Piss Off Your Readers

#14 Post by Zylinder » Mon Apr 09, 2012 8:29 am

Never actually played it myself, but had a few friends who were downright mad at the technicolor explosion ending. Whether the DLC is the real ending or just Bioware caving in and writing a new one for the players, I'd just like to say that IF the former was true, then that's bad story telling and money milking. It's like someone shoots a movie and then after 1.5 hours of watching it in a theater, the credits effectively say "lol we'll post the last 15 minutes online in 3 months, maybe". It'd be fine if there was another sequel, but it's an ending. If they decide to charge for this (And knowing EA, they probably will), then it's just plain sad.

Though it DOES make me a little mad that Dragon Age 2 never got anything extra even though we bellyached all over the place. Though to be fair, the only thing that could have fixed it would be a total remake of half of it, not to mention forcing them to make new dungeons. Considering the amazing variety in the game, that's probably an extremely tasking job.

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Re: How to Not Piss Off Your Readers

#15 Post by LateWhiteRabbit » Mon Apr 09, 2012 11:56 am

Zylinder wrote:Whether the DLC is the real ending or just Bioware caving in and writing a new one for the players, I'd just like to say that IF the former was true, then that's bad story telling and money milking. It's like someone shoots a movie and then after 1.5 hours of watching it in a theater, the credits effectively say "lol we'll post the last 15 minutes online in 3 months, maybe". It'd be fine if there was another sequel, but it's an ending. If they decide to charge for this (And knowing EA, they probably will), then it's just plain sad.
The new DLC that modifiies the endings is going to be free. Bioware has already announced this. However, it also does NOT change the endings - instead it is going to make them more clear, show extended scenes, and show the player what happens to the other characters and what effect the player's personal choices they've made through out the 3 games has made on the galaxy. It sounds like we are going to get Fallout: New Vegas-style endings personalized to our choices. Bioware has been adamant that the actually ending events will not be changed - instead they said the new DLC will make it easier for players to understand the endings and give better closure to the crew members.

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