Game Front 1-on-1: Mass Effect Alternate Ending Writer Arkis
“When it’s at its worst is when the person doesn’t know what they want, they just know that what you’ve given them isn’t what they want. I feel like a lot of that happened with BioWare. It wasn’t people going, ‘You should have given us this,’ they were saying, ‘You shouldn’t have given us what you gave us.’
“So that’s why I feel like my ending and the ‘Marauder Shields’ series became so popular so fast, because people latched on to something that was different. I mean, I’m not a fan of my ending now, reading it back at this point. It was written in an hour and a half while I was eating breakfast. It wasn’t incredibly well fleshed out, it’s really wordy, but people looked at it and said, ‘Yes, this is something that I really really like,’ because they just weren’t happy with what they were given. So that relationship is really, really tough to work at as an artist, and especially when yo’ure in a big company, I imagine yo’uve got all these investors and people that expect certain things — the pressure is immense. But it can be a really incredible process if it’s managed properly.”
The popularity of Vani’s ending as it was being shared around the Internet brought him quite a bit of exposure, and has led to some new projects. He said he currently is working on the possibility of collaborating to create an illustrated novel that would be published online, allowing him to play with the medium of the novel, like the way images interact with text.
Though he does some writing, he primarily works as a freelance artist, and the result of so much Mass Effect-related attention has been more fans of the game seeing his work and asking for commissions.
“It brought a lot of attention to my art, so I’ve been getting a lot more commission work just for Mass Effect pieces. It actually feels like lately all I’ve done is do Mass Effect pieces because all the Mass Effect fans are like, ‘Hey, you do paintings too? This is awesome!’” he said. “And I’ve been approached by a few creative bodies for various projects. They range from fan films to comic books — the fandom has really embraced what I did, which was really, really cool. So it’s just given me a lot more opportunity to work with. Any exposure at this point for an artist who’s not really well known is usually good. I’ve been really grateful for the fact that people have been willing to pay attention to what I did. I just wish I had more time to edit it.”
You can check out more of Vani’s art, as well as contact him about commissions, through his Deviant Art page at arkis.deviantart.com.