On Mass Effect 3: Headcanon edition

Yes, yes, I know. Another Mass Effect 3-related post, and still with the spoilers. I’ll get to saying something about something else sooner or later, it just will have to be awhile. For variety though, I thought I’d actually post something positive.

Since we won’t know exactly how or in what form BioWare will address the ending debacle for some time yet and there being no guarantee that whatever they do will address the entirety of the issues (so far the official line seems to be clarify and offer closure – the latter is welcome, but I don’t see “un-break the whole thing” on their list of intended actions), I’ve so far resolved to throw their ending in a bin and substitute it with my own. Thus, headcanon.

Problem is, I’ve never been all that good at descriptive prose, and with my narrative writing the last few years basically being Beyond the Tree and nothing else, whenever I write story nowadays it tends to come out in the form of the annotated comic scripts I use. A bit of a problem.

But then I found out that the third party tools allowing the extraction of resources from Unreal Engine-based games have recently been updated to support the latest Unreal Engine, which is to say Mass Effect 3. And well, I just so happen to have some experience making comics out of 3D models extracted from games, imagine that.

So, context first since it doesn’t entirely deliver: I essentially axed BioWare’s original ending after Anderson dies, then the crucible does… something… and Reapers and their ilk dies, but unrelated synthetics do not because that would be silly. Then Steve Cortez brings his magical shuttle carrying Kaidan Alenko and Garrus Vakarian. They stop by, pick up a rather battered Kate Shepard, and off they go. Beware of self-indulgence, sappy dialogue and a Cortez who looks doesn’t quite look like he normally does because he doesn’t a generated face as opposed to a unique one and I have no idea how to convince the game to give me his proper self. x|

Right, so with that out of the way, here goes: page One, page Two, page Three, page Four


35 Responses to “On Mass Effect 3: Headcanon edition”

  1. 1 LoLDrood
    March 25, 2012 at 01:02

    Me, I’m going with a St. Elsewhere ending. Murmuring about reapers and Normandies…

  2. March 25, 2012 at 10:34

    Your feel for angles and character-rich dialogue
    is, as always, at sublime level

  3. 3 Moltrazahn
    March 25, 2012 at 13:20

    bestest ending evah
    … now i want more. :<

    • 4 Nhani
      March 29, 2012 at 19:59

      Sadly, further developments are hampered by the need for more people and backdrops, and the amount of characters that I can realistically get exported at this point is quite limited. Also I haven’t really set much of what I’d have happen after in any kind of solid state – it just fluctuates around wildly as I experiment with it.

  4. 5 Eliza Scarlet
    March 25, 2012 at 14:10


  5. 6 Lahis
    March 25, 2012 at 16:45

    What kind of interior there is on the shuttle model?

    • 7 Nhani
      March 29, 2012 at 19:58

      The walls of the thing? There’s some texture weird with some of the walls which I’m not sure how it should be handled, mind. Some surfaces utilize a material that seems to actually not have a diffuse map, only a specular or normal one, which is weird.

  6. 8 Vicciousraven
    March 25, 2012 at 20:27

    Send this to Bioware please so they learn how things should be done! kk thx bye

    Awesome Nhani well made and really the ending this game should have gotten in the first place!

    Now can you do that again with Liara instead of Kaidan please? <.<

  7. March 26, 2012 at 14:14


    I need something to do. Perhaps I should do a narrative rewrite. Make up some stuff. Been a long while since I wrote anything in the MEverse anyway. Although I thought Cortez got shot out of the sky after the drop-off. Mmmmh. If you want it in prose, I wouldn’t be averse to having dialogue and/or rough notes catapulted at me to work with.

    Surprised I didn’t think of it earlier anyway. All that aside, I think this alternate ending … Works, I guess? I never really invested heavily in a femshep so I can’t associate all that well. It might also be that I’m not a massive Kaiden fan. Plenty of room for, uh, ‘growth’, of story nonetheless. Decent snapshot.

    • 10 Nhani
      March 29, 2012 at 19:56

      I’ll admit my memory might be muddled, but I’m pretty sure talking to him over holo later he said he’d gotten up in the air again in some form. I know he survived to be alive and kicking, at the very least.

      • 11 CN
        March 29, 2012 at 21:49

        Whether Cortez lives or dies depends on how much did you talk to him. In my first playthrough he survived, in the second I more or less ignored him and he bought the farm.

        Also the renders are über-awesome.

  8. 12 LoLDrood
    March 27, 2012 at 00:07

    Now things get interesting. Bioware has apparently started responding to complaints in earnest, now releasing vids take during the writers sessions for the ending. Check it out, I found it really puts things in perspective.
    youtube /watch?v=VIDincj-FIc

    They’ve also released a brief sneak peak at some of the beta version of the new ending DLC. It’s very short, but I’ll put up a spoiler warning just in case.
    youtube /watch?v=SRd55I46th8

  9. 18 Moria
    March 29, 2012 at 05:18

    Nice head-canon, Nhani! Short, simple, and straight to the heart! (Though as a Garrus-girl, it feels weird seeing him off to the side.)

    Came up with my own head-canon at work the day after I finished the game. (Don’t judge me, my current job involves quite a bit of manual labor and not a lot of thought. Perfect for…well, I guess it’s not technically writing. Er, writing prep?) Anyway, mine’s a great convoluted monster, not at all pretty like yours. Haven’t actually written it down yet. Won’t until and if the Ending DLC falls on its face. Feels…final. Like setting words to word-processor admits that all hope is lost.

    • 19 Nhani
      March 29, 2012 at 19:50

      Personally, I found first writing and then rendering the above to really help sort out my own reactions to the ending; it helped resolve things where the game itself would not. Considering character attachment will invariably build up emotions, it’s good to have a release for them at the end.

      Since I’m generally good at embracing fluid canon and warping canon down various paths to see if it gets me anywhere interesting, committing my own headcanon ending to words or art hasn’t necessarily frozen things solid either – it’s just given one potential satisfying conclusion. If BioWare provides more, great. If they don’t, at least I’ll have my own version.

  10. 20 Coragon
    March 31, 2012 at 00:15

    Not bad!

    Here’s an idea: Start a mass effect comic! 😀

    Personally, I’ll happily wait and see how Bioware tries to stitch this whole mess together. There’s plenty of talk that they’re putting some thought and work into ending-related content now and that they’ll have announcements to do in April. We’ll see, I suppose. But at least I can get my hopes off. And leave my hopes alone! *fends people off with a pitchfork*

    • 21 Nhani
      March 31, 2012 at 06:13

      Hah, well I’ve briefly considered trying it out a few times. There’s two outstanding problems however – first off that most faces in the game are done via the face gen thing rather than being unique models and I simply have no idea (if it’s even possible!) to get the morph data out of the game, so I’d have to actually adjust them manually. Which is both very time consuming and very difficult.

      Secondly, I so far haven’t had good access to backdrops; I can’t just, say, export the Normandy interior because it’s all in pieces and several texture references are just completely off and seemingly entirely dependent on shaders which means I have no idea how to properly represent them in 3ds.

      So it’s just a whole ‘nother level of effort and complexity than Beyond the Tree ever was, and I honestly don’t know if I could actually pull it off properly. There’s just too many characters even just on board the Normandy that’d all require a significant amount of work just for me to figure out their combination of skin colour and texture, nevermind make a half attempt at mimicking their actual facial topology.

      And that’d be just the Normandy, under the assumption that I could use this flycam thing to get decent backdrops.

  11. April 3, 2012 at 03:48

    if you havent seen this Nhani, i recommend it. I am not sure whether i buy the WHOLE thing, but it damn sure makes you think. And since i want to believe that Bioware’s writers arent idiots, this made me feel better.

    • 23 Nhani
      April 3, 2012 at 06:33

      I don’t buy the indoctrination theory personally, really; I can see why people want to and I admit that parts of it can make a compelling argument, but it simply strikes me as being too much against both strengths and type for me to believe in it as something made by BioWare.

      If Mass Effect 3 was written by Obsidian then yeah, I could probably believe it. It was made by BioWare however – their strengths are characterization, not that kind of intricate plot complexity. Seeing their past track record and the kind of plots going on throughout Mass Effect 3 itself, I simply find it far more believable that BioWare did a slip up of a type that’s actually fairly common in games in general and just did an epic miscalculation of the amount of emotional investment people have sunk into the Mass Effect property.

  12. 24 CN
    April 5, 2012 at 13:37

    OK, so clarification it is…


    I think thats about as much as we could realistically hope for..

    Excited about it? Nope. But there’s some cautious curiosity.

    • 25 Nhani
      April 5, 2012 at 13:57

      Sounds about what we could’ve expected, really; I’m not sure if I’d actually be happy with their offering seeing the absolute trainwreck they have to work from, but I’ll settle for content if it actually succeeds in being satisfying and, well, making some bloody sense.

      Failing that, there’s plenty of headcanon to go around to erase the bullshit.

      But yeah, we’ll see. I’d say it’s not like they could screw it up further, but I don’t want to jinx it.

      • 26 CN
        April 5, 2012 at 14:49

        100% agree with that last part.

        Part of the reason I didn’t expect new endings was that IF the current ones were Bioware’s best shot under the circumstances, I just couldn’t see them ass-pull significantly better ones on a short notice (or at all, even).

        Still, its just plain frustrating that another franchise I liked got murdered under EA’s management in last 2 years.. First C&C 4, now this :-/

        As for headcanon, my version is simple – anything after 2nd missile launch didn’t happen, period, new paragraph.

        • 27 LoLDrood
          April 8, 2012 at 00:12

          I’m toying with the idea of picking up a copy of RA3, but I hear the DRM on that is atrocious and screws your computer up something fierce. EA, and Square Enix, are two companies I never plant o do business with again, if I can at all help it.

          I don’t know what they could hope to salvage from the ME3 ending, without re-writing everything from at least the final-push on. This would probably mean retconning Marauder Shields out. 😦

          By chance, I saw this right now
          I don’t roleplay, cause frankly it wierds me out, but the add one looks quite useful.

  13. 28 Meglivorn
    April 8, 2012 at 11:54

    Just some little links

    This is fanwork, for fun. I think it’s actually quite good:

    And this is a new topic, gives some insight how the writers see some parts, and what can be in the Extended Cut:

  14. 30 sleelofwpg
    April 19, 2012 at 09:29

    Hated the ending. Haven’t even had a whiff of wanting to do another playthru. Barring some kind of ending resurrection DLC, will probably be last time I buy from these guys.

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