During that time things were set up to be an 'epic' story while still allowing the players choices for their characters by continuing to play those same characters the last three years of the larp.
During that time people grew less interested about the overarching plot and more in tune with how their character fit into that plot and how things mattered to that character.
When the game finally wrapped up in the end it didn't really matter what the characters did up until a point then they had to make a final decision and go to the final room for the ending. Some people really liked the ending. Some said it was okay. But ALL of them wanted an epilogue for their character.
As staff on that game, I got to see first-hand how people's reactions were. And I came to the conclusion that if you give players choice they want their voice to matter. The Animania games were criticized as ones that railroaded you to one ending. We were called out on the impression that it didn't matter what the players did, the Animania story would trump that and thus there was no 'player freedom'. We listened to the feedback, we said we would change, we tried to change, but in the end there had to be one ending.
So I understand where the creative writers and staff of Bioware is coming from. They're going through the same issues we went through with Animania. Both games gave the players 'choice' and said your voice matters. And both were railroaded into one ending.
(Side note: I'm still keeping my hope alive that Bioware is doing this as a calculated move and will release the end of the ending in April as DLC.)
The part that I don't like is them being surprised by the negative reaction. Have they not ran a massive game with passionate fans before?
Them being surprised lets me know their pulse was not in tune with the masses. I'm fine if they wanted to write whatever ending they wanted, but they shouldn't be surprised if people don't like it and want to hold you accountable for writing something bad. They backed themselves into a corner when they gave the illusion of 'choice'. We did the same thing in Animania. Sure we were able to change things and adapt things and make things differently...up until the final point in the game...that's when things did have to get railroaded towards the 'ending that would blow your mind'. Which is exactly the same things Bioware has done with ME3, and the reactions of players in both games has been the same. (Not as volatile for Animania, but we only had 50 players not 5 million.)