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March 18, 2012
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a few ideas on how to fix the endings, inspired by indoctrination theory - break for spoiler protection. you know, just in case
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Everything that happens from the moment Shepard gets hit by a beam to the moment when he/she tries to make it to the console inside the citadel after Hackett calls - is real.  its fuzzy becasue Shepard is concussed, wounded, but its still real.

In my interpretation, the actual hallucination doesn't begin until Shepard loses consciousness at the console, after confrontation with Illusive man. and in my interpretation - all 3 choices are valid in their own way... and lead to a different battle once Shepard is woken up by squadmates (if they survive), or hammer reinforcements (if squadmates get hit by a beam and die, due to low EMS)

. I'd have to think a bit further exactly how 3 choices affect both Shepard and the battle, but just like with Quarian and Geth conflict, where we can side with one, other or manage to support both - Shepard should ultimately be able to incorporate the effects of the hallucination choice.

like for example, rough outline:

destroy would just weaken all the reaper forces, without destroying them and it would come down to sheer brute force of the combined war assets to destroy them. strength of assets would determine losses and casualties on the filed, both for the fleets and ground forces. but reapers will be gone forever. the drawback is, while reapers will be destroyed completely, even with weak war assets, casualties would be unavoidable even with the strongest force.

control will make the battle easier by possibly turning reapers on each other, but some would eventually escape into dark space. how many will be determined by strength of the war assets and with max forces it could be possible to destroy them all (or only let Harby escape?)

merge could result in a truce and least amount of casualties... but that would also means that reapers would go back into dark space in full force, and could potentially return in some centuries to continue what they started, if the galaxy decides to violate the terms of the truce.

either way - relays remain operational (with low assets they could be disabled and would need to be repaired. but still - not destroyed). Citadel is completely disabled and potentially severely damaged depending on the amount of assets. Crucible is destroyed upon use.

Shepard can die in destroy and control ending if assets are low (from wounds, since there isn't enough medigel/doctors are unavailable/etc), will always survive in merge. merge is the standstill option, as it saves current cycle and preserves the most lives, but it also keeps full threat of the reapers still standing. Control minimizes the threat but doesn't remove it completely. Destroy removes the threat forever, but more people die to accomplish it.

Shepard's choice inside the hallucination, affects the type of energy crucible discharges and how it affects the reaper forces

how does Harby manage to get to Shepard?  Shepard is NOT indoctrinated.  however, Shepard IS weakened and in a vulnerable state, which makes his/her will weaker and allows Harby access to his/her mind.

and just as an off the wall idea.  allow Shepard a forth option inside the hallucination.  to reject all 3 choices and recognize being manipulated.  this option should be extremely difficult to achieve, would require extreme amounts of meta-gaming through all 3 installments and will allow Shepard to use the crucible to incinerate all the reapers without requiring any more fighting from hammer and sword. Citadel doesn't take any further damage, and crucible while completely depleted and deactivated - is still available for salvage.

Multiplayer should NOT have decisive effect on single player.  all the multiplayer maps are basically N7 missions, so completing multiplayer maps gives the same assets as completing N7 missions.  alternatively - single player could receive credits for each multiplayer wave completed, across all characters.  boost amount of fuel Normandy can hold. increase Shepard's charisma... something that is beneficial yet truly optional unlike galactic readiness currently.
Spoilers inside. you've been warned.

tldr version - my musings on what endings should have been, using already existing endings to expand upon.

if you are curious what prompted me to write, even though its one artform that I almost never engage in - read the wall of text bellow.

Having recently finished Mass Effect 3, just like many many people, I have been disappointed with the endings. its not the only thing I was disappointed with, while the game itself is great fun, I had many and varied often relatively minor issues with plotlines, characterizations, handling of relationships, bugs, dialogue (too much auto dialogue and some of it just didn't seem to fit), questing (how do you manage to take an annoying mechanic like planet scanning and both make it less optional as well as more annoying?), even combat (seriously bioware, "do all" button especially for PC games is NOT a good idea. rolling into cover instead of using an object is jarring to say the least).

But all of those issues, I could deal with, more or less. some through sheer avoidance of fanart materials dealing with things that bother me. some by finding ways around them.

but the endings. the endings figuratively killed me. they offered no closure. they didn't fit the established lore. they negated every single choice I made in all 3 games. and no matter what I chose - they made a liar out of my Shepard and were depressing as hell.

I don't understand why so many people sneer at happy endings? I just.. don't. there is enough hardship in real life to deal with, that when I chose my entertainment, I'd like to get something uplifting, promising, hopeful, something that makes me sit back, go aaaahhh and grin through the entirety of the credit song. tragedy has its place and can be extremely powerful, but forced tragedy with absolutely no option for anything even remotely happy?

up until Mass Effect 3, in every single bioware game - you had an option to save lives of most if not all of your companions and stay with your chosen LI. yes even Morrigan, though that took a DLC to be possible. some endings were darker then others. the ending of Dragon Age 2 is very very dark and there's no escaping it. but the protagonist has an option to not only survive, but also find some happiness after the story ends.

Mass Effect franchise is not even darkest world that Bioware created. its not as idealistic as the world on Star Trek, but it comes damn close. so what happened that prompted them to decide to give us the endings that they did? why are they so bitter? yes, not even bittersweet - bitter? and why do they break the lore as much as they do?

there are many theories explaining the endings, indoctrination theory being the most popular. my version of the revised ME3 endings? takes inspiration from that theory.
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:iconborkless:
Borkless Featured By Owner Jun 5, 2012  Hobbyist
Pretty awesome, I like it!
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:iconlinaleah:
LinaLeah Featured By Owner Jun 5, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
thank you for your kind comment and the fave :)
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:iconmila-valentine:
Mila-Valentine Featured By Owner Mar 29, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
This is really interesting. You should submit to Retake ME3. I like how it doesn't scratch the endings but adds new possibilities and the real use of the EMS to decide the end.
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:iconlinaleah:
LinaLeah Featured By Owner Mar 29, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
thank you! I did submit it :D there are just more popular and more extensively written versions. I wanted to write my own interpretation, because well.. a lot of them just do full out rewrite and its not really fair to people who actually liked the endings, particularly blue and green choices, to just take it away from them and claim them invalid choices. hence, me trying to create something that keeps those choices valid.
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:iconmila-valentine:
Mila-Valentine Featured By Owner Mar 29, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Ah, I think they are 'valid' but too simple and don't do justice to most of the Shepards who want to keep fighting.
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:iconlinaleah:
LinaLeah Featured By Owner Mar 29, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
oh I agree :) that's why the only solution that I see as getting rid of the reapers once and for all is destroy. green just preserves status quo.. for now. and blue? somewhere in between. still, its their choice and it shouldn't be taken away from them, no matter how much of the minority they are. now, if this was still in development and no one had a chance to play through yet and pick out their Shepard's story, id fight tooth and nail against those. now though? I can hate it and express why, but in the end of the day, taking away the choice that's already been given is just wrong IMO. (and believe me this is hard. having your values conflict with your personal desires :P but I like Shepard primarily because he or she face this conundrum all the time, and inspire me to at least try to be a better person)
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:iconmila-valentine:
Mila-Valentine Featured By Owner Mar 29, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Yes, I would like to have these kind of endings or something like that, but no blue boy ):, I really dislike that, they should have a way to give us these choices without talking to that ghost kid Orz...
I also wrote a journal as a script for a series of strips I want to do of my 'headcanon' ending.
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