Game Front 1-on-1: Mass Effect Alternate Ending Writer Arkis
A new ending option added to the game has come to be known as the “Refusal” ending, in which players are able to refuse the terms of the Star Child’s final choice, either through dialog or by shooting at the character. Vani’s ending included similar dialog, and there’s one telling moment that seems a direct reference to Vani’s work. At the final refusal, the Star Child, in a booming voice, decries, “So be it.” That line, as well as the reference to a booming voice, appears in Vani’s script almost verbatim.
“It’s funny,” Vani said, laughing. “I didn’t get to play it right away and someone messaged me saying ‘oh my god, they totally took your ending, it’s so cool.’ And I was like, oh, okay. So I went and I played it, and I decided at first I’m just going to play it the way I did the first time — I’ll Destroy [choosing the Destroy ending option]. I really liked what they did with it and then I thought, okay, I’ll see what this refusal ending is, and I really couldn’t stop laughing. I was like, ‘Aw, they’re such trolls.’
“I don’t know if it was directed directly at me, I like to think it wasn’t because I don’t think I have that big of an influence, but I was like, man, they’re such trolls. They totally said, if you want that option, here it is. It was cool, though, I definitely enjoyed it.”
And upon hearing the line, “So be it?”
“My eyebrow definitely went up. I was like, ‘Huh. That’s cool,’” he said. “It was a cool moment. Again, I don’t want to say it was my ending, but it definitely looked similar in several ways. Can’t say BioWare doesn’t listen to their fans, just doesn’t mean they’re going to hear the exact words you’re saying.”
As an artist, Vani said he understands the difficulty BioWare has had with the ending and its relationship with players. BioWare told players they were going to be able to shape the experience, and they expected to do as much, he said. He was glad most people were positive about much of their criticisms of the ending, but said it can be hard for people like artists and game developers to meet the expectations of their customers.
“Art itself is about the artist. If you’re making art for you, it’s all about you, and while feedback from other people can be valuable, it doesn’t always matter, because it’s your piece and you can do what you want with it,” he said. “When you’re an artist working for hire, when you’re doing a consumer product, then you have to be really conscious of who you’re working for because they’re paying you to give them what they want. It’s really a case-by-case basis. I’ve worked with people who have been amazing. I’ll send them something and they’ll say, ‘Okay, this is great, I’d like this, this and this tweaked if you can do it,’ and I’m like, ‘Yeah, no problem,’ and you work with them and it’s a really great collaborative process. And that’s when it’s at its best.