ME3 PAX Panel: BioWare Offers Few Details, Lots of Speculation

At the BioWare Mass Effect 3 panel earlier this afternoon at PAX East, a team of BioWare’s best and brighest were on hand to answer a variety of questions about the game. That group, composed of community coordinator Chris Priestly, producer Mike Gamble, level combat designer Corey Gaspur, senior writer (and recent center of controversy) Patrick Weekes, and fellow senior writer John Dombrow, answered queries ranging from a discussion of some of Shepard’s more horrible renegade choices to the use of a stock photo for Tali’s face. But naturally a big chunk of the discussion concerned the just-announced Mass Effect 3: Extended Edition DLC. Alas, fans looking for more information than the vague statements made in the DLC’s official press release, or the unfortunate implications in their follow up on the BioWare forums that there won’t actually be any real changes made, should look elsewhere.

Kotaku was on the scene liveblogging the panel, but more importantly, our own Ben Richardson was on hand taking notes of his own. Based on what they’re reporting, BioWare are playing their cards very close to the vest. First and foremost, no specific details were provided, aside from a promise that more detail will be coming later. On that, the panelists said “our cinematics team…is on it as we speak.” Great — what does that mean? It means that BioWare plans to continue to talk about the DLC in a way that may further frustrate fans. Statements from the panel like “we wanted to answer the questions we’re seeing” don’t seem to jibe with the news that nothing is going to be fundamentally changed, including, it would seem, the numerous plot holes.

That they claim they’re actually paying attention to complaints, saying “we definitely look, we definitely put together a list,” or “We want to give you some more closure around the questions you have, fill in some of the unknowns” is promising, as is the statement that they “want to give players a sense of personalization with the endings.” Unfortunately, when asked outright if the new DLC would change the endings, they said again there would be no new endings, only “closure.” “When you see the ending of Mass Effect,” it was reportedly said, “you now have the information and the context to feel satisfied”

BioWare continues to stand by the ending they released, but the panelists insisted that fan feedback is valuable, and desired, even hinting for the millionth time that the indoctrination theory might be in play. “The indoctrination theory illustrates again how, um, committed the fanbase is…” one panelist said. “I don’t want to comment either way. Don’t want to be prescriptive — fans interpret their own way… We want the content to speak for itself, and we’ll let it do so”.

So how will it speak for itself? A couple of hints were dropped. The panel did add that “some of the choices” will affect the endings. They also added that the new scenes will be “more than just a few cinematic scenes, more than just a small coat of paint – it’s definitely a considerable amount.” Of course, that seems to be at odds with what BioWare has already said and not said (and possibly, contradicted themselves on). Take that how you will.


Game Front is on-site at PAX East all weekend (April 6-8), bringing you daily news, hands-on previews, interviews and pictures. Stay tuned for more PC gaming-focused coverage!

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8 Comments on ME3 PAX Panel: BioWare Offers Few Details, Lots of Speculation

MarcoSnow

On April 7, 2012 at 4:55 am

Looks like Bioware’s still trying to cover their *** with ambiguous statements that only serve to spark more speculation. Case in point:

“The indoctrination theory illustrates again how, um, committed the fanbase is…” one panelist said. “I don’t want to comment either way. Don’t want to be prescriptive — fans interpret their own way… We want the content to speak for itself, and we’ll let it do so”.

In typical PR form, this statement neither fully confirms nor denies the Indoctrination Theory (though I believe it tends toward the latter) possibly giving diehard adherents of the theory false hope to tide them over to the summer DLC. In my opinion, Bioware is simply trying to say, in the most polite way possible, that they don’t want to restrict the fans’ interpretation of the ending (lots of speculation for everyone!). And why would they? Up until now, Indoctrination theorists have been some of the staunchest supporters of the ending amid the fan backlash (citing subtle [ie. possibly misinterpreted] cues throughout the series as signs of indoctrination in order to make sense of ME3′s non sequitur ending); Bioware would be shooting itself in the foot if it fully alienated them at this point (whether or not the theory ultimately proves true, which seems unlikely at this point). If you really read between the lines, however, Bioware is essentially acknowledging that fans will and should come up with creative theories, not that the theory is correct (huge difference).

SXO

On April 7, 2012 at 6:11 am

Basically they’re using the “Indoctrination Theory” as a get out of jail free card. The theory makes sense when you handpick evidence to support it, but it falls flat on its face when you look at everything, and the reason for that is that it’s just not what they were going for. But since so many people are grasping at straws to try and make sense of the ending in a way that doesn’t destroy the whole mythos for them, they’ve adopted this theory as truth. Bioware, with no intention of changing anything, will rather just leave the theory as “plausible,” than go through the enormous undertaking of actually making a new ending that actually makes sense.

1st Lt Jasta

On April 7, 2012 at 7:06 am

If you are a Member of BSN and wish to express your opinion about the Extended Cut DLC.
Here’s a poll.

http://social.bioware.com/3723108/polls/

Tom

On April 7, 2012 at 8:22 am

The panel was a complete sham. They spent what, 50 minutes or so patting themselves on the back? Then none of the questions during the Q&A were relevant. I’m not saying they were planted questions, but it was a little suious.

Dan Christensen

On April 7, 2012 at 1:39 pm

(Note, I’m not defending Bioware in any way here, just offering a possible explanation to their statement about the amount of content)

Remember the end of Fallout: New Vegas? It was basically a voiced-over slide show, where each major variable/faction got it’s own little slide or sequence, telling the outcome of that situation. How did you deal with the NCR? What happened to the Great Khans, and so on.

If you correlate the statements from Bioware (significant amount of content, but no new dialogue or gameplay), it seem entirely possible they’re taking this route. Their “list” would then be a list of variables that they want to provide additional information on, and if they then do cinematics for each (good + bad outcomes), and have the game engine string these together in accordance with your choices, that would represent quite a bit of work.

It would fit well with the “large amount of content” and “no new gameplay” statements that they’ve made.

Tom

On April 7, 2012 at 3:41 pm

@Dan

The big issue I have with something like that is that an ending slideshow has always been Fallout’s thing. It works in that series. I don’t think it would work with Mass Effect. I think if anything, it’ll just kick the hornets nest a few more times.

Dan Christensen

On April 7, 2012 at 4:50 pm

@Tom

I didn’t mean a slideshow as such, but a cinematic video equivalent of it, which is a bit more up Bioware’s alley. Still though, it’s all just speculation as we have next to zero information from Bioware themselves.

WiNGSPANTT

On April 7, 2012 at 7:09 pm

Great article with a great angle on the story. Can’t believe how evasive these people can be.