Saturday, 23 February 2013

1up Blog #54: Game Endings (03/11/2010)

Endings probably take up less than one percent of most games. Yet, the importance of a good ending is almost critical. This is because the ending is the part most gamers see last; developers want their game to leave a good taste in everybody’s mouth. I did find there are some combinations of these categories, but feel free to add one’s I forgot. The only other thing I can really say is that I am by no means an expert on game endings. I don’t really play as many games as most hardcore gamers, but if I do know one thing I’m always committed to finishing them!
Complete Ending
I see this as a more standardized way to end a story; a story that consists of a beginning, middle, and an end. You could say that about pretty much any game, but is that accurate for a game that goes on for over 30 hours? It seems to me that original IP’s tend to go with the complete ending, while the sequels branch out to more complex ways of storytelling; the original Halo and Metal Gear Solid wrap things up very nicely, but their sequels use some of these other types.
Rewarding Ending
These games really save the best stuff for last. FFX, Silent Hill 2, and MGS3’s long, all-revealing endings are perhaps the best examples. It certainly is worthwhile after putting countless hours into any game. Sometimes saving the twist for the end means you also have to slog through 20 hours of filler-story like in Kingdom Hearts or from what I hear, Killer 7. Sometimes trying to take a page from two-hour movies doesn’t always work for games.
Playable Ending
This is my personal favorite. Unfortunately, playable endings are far from common; there are countless unique approaches that haven’t even been used yet. So far, the only examples I have seen in games are in Dragon Quest VIII and Chrono Trigger which end the game in a very lighthearted mood. Though to an extent Call of Duty 4 does have a playable ending. At this point the world is already saved, something like this just ties up loose ends with the characters. It gives a very different feeling, and if done right I would definitely prefer it to over an hour of cut-scenes.
Cliffhanger Ending
Ending a game with a cliffhanger is almost like the writers saying “We give up.” Okay not exactly, but it feels that way. I used Halo as an example of a “Complete Ending” yet its sequel becomes the anti-thesis: it winded up cutting the game off before most people even knew it. Half-Life 2 literally hits the pause button at the end. Sure, everyone is assured a sequel in due time, but that sour taste will be lingering in gamers’ mouths until that happens.

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