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Game Endings Going Out of Style?

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the to-be-continued dept.

Games 190

An article in the Guardian asks whether the focus of modern games has shifted away from having a clear-cut ending and toward indefinite entertainment instead. With the rise of achievements, frequent content updates and open-ended worlds, it seems like publishers and developers are doing everything they can to help this trend. Quoting: "Particularly before the advent of 'saving,' the completion of even a simple game could take huge amounts of patience, effort and time. The ending, like those last pages of a book, was a key reason why we started playing in the first place. Sure, multiplayer and arcade style games still had their place, but fond 8, 16 and 32-bit memories consist more of completion and satisfaction than particular levels or tricky moments. Over the past few years, however, the idea of a game as simply something to 'finish' has shifted somewhat. For starters, the availability of downloadable content means no story need ever end, as long as the makers think there's a paying audience. Also, the ubiquity of broadband means multiplayer gaming is now the standard, not the exception it once was. There is no real 'finish' to most MMORPGs."

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Ok for MMOs, perhaps... (5, Insightful)

RogueyWon (735973) | more than 4 years ago | (#30748906)

For MMOs, I think this is forgivable. After all, they're supposed to be persistent worlds. That said, a competent MMO developer will set up storylines for players to work through (either at their own pace, or a pace forced by in-game world events). The two MMOs I've played both do this; WoW and Final Fantasy XI. I understand that the real masters in this field are Codemasters, with Lord of the Rings Online, but a variety of other factors have always kept me away from that game. Interestingly, I understand that Blizzard will actually be adding a proper ending cutscene in the next WoW patch, for guilds that manage to take down Arthas. Given this will be the culmination of a major plot arc that kicked off years ago in Warcraft 3, I heartily approve.

For non-MMO story-based, however, I do want a story with a definite beginning, middle and end. This isn't to say that the game can't continue after the story has ended; I much preferred the way the Broken Steel DLC allowed you to continue exploring the Capital Wastelands in Fallout 3, after you'd beaten the original game and the continuation story. However, if your game has a story, that story needs an ending, even if this ending is open enough to allow for continuation.

My real bug-bear are the games which eschew a real ending because they're angling for a sequel (or even an entire franchise), but never deliver on this. In my opinion, unless you already have funding in place for a sequel, you should avoid tagging a cliff-hanger ending onto your game. Doesn't mean you can't continue the story later if you want to; look at the first Star Wars movie - it has a perfectly satisfactory ending in itself, but still allowed for sequels. Then with funding secure, Empire was able to have an appropriate cliff-hanger ending. But if your ending is "the real story is just beginning" and then you never do continue it, then I'm definitely not impressed.

It's not just games that suffer from this. So many TV shows are developed these days with the philosophy that you should continue making series until your audience figures fall low enough to shut you down. If there's an ending at all, only a tiny number of ultra-hardcore viewers ever see it. We're being bombarded with stories that have a beginning and an endless middle, but no ending. Sometimes, ending a show can be the best thing that's ever happened to it. I understand this was the case with the original Mobile Suit Gundam, which flew completely below the radar (probably because it wasn't very good) until the staff were told that they were being terminated, at which point they gave it a proper storyline and ending. The result - the show got noticed and went on to become a genuine cultural phenomenon in Japan (and attracted a good bit of nerdly attention in the wider world), with sequels and reimaginings running for decades.

Re:Ok for MMOs, perhaps... (1)

BikeHelmet (1437881) | more than 4 years ago | (#30748976)

So many TV shows are developed these days with the philosophy that you should continue making series until your audience figures fall low enough to shut you down. If there's an ending at all, only a tiny number of ultra-hardcore viewers ever see it. We're being bombarded with stories that have a beginning and an endless middle, but no ending.

Totally agree with this, and pretty much everything else you said.

Chuck had a good ending - and it came back!

Re:Ok for MMOs, perhaps... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30749362)

Chuck had a good ending, and it came back worse then ever.

Fixed that for you.

Re:Ok for MMOs, perhaps... (1)

Hal_Porter (817932) | more than 4 years ago | (#30750142)

Maybe they buried it in the Pet Cemetery.

Re:Ok for MMOs, perhaps... (1)

JackieBrown (987087) | more than 4 years ago | (#30749444)

And don't we all appreciate 3 episodes back to back with the last one being the a parter...

Re:Ok for MMOs, perhaps... (1)

MBGMorden (803437) | more than 4 years ago | (#30750096)

Chuck had a good ending - and it came back!

Largely the reason why Babylon 5's 5th season sucked so bad (or rather, was well below the standards set by the previous 4). JMS thought that the show was getting cancelled after the 4th season, so he wrapped everything up and had the ending filmed at that season. Then they get approved for another season and he had to try and make a show with completely new plotlines since all the previous ones were wrapped up.

I must say though, I'd really, really favor a system of financing for shows that sets aside budget in escrow for 3 episodes. At such time as the series is canceled without warning that money is to fund development of 3 episodes with which to close out and end the show. While it might be a little rushy, most good crews can do that with 3 episodes. If the network wants the timeslot back then show the finish up episodes late at night on a weekend where the die hard fans can at least catch them or DVR them. Naturally digital distribution of shows (which I definately see as on the way - the iTunes model of subscribing to a TV show is the future of episodic content IMHO) would render even that unnecessary since there's no concept of channels or timeslots any longer.

Either way, something needs to be done. It really ticks me off to get invested in TV shows that get canceled without warning and never wrapped up. Babylon 5 Crusade was a good example. Show ended right in the middle with no resolution. It's embarrassing to admit, but I also got into a show called "Wolf Lake" years ago that was just canceled mid run with no conclusion. Terminator The Sarah Connor Chronicles basically did the same. They made it to the end of the second season and the director claimed that that episode was good enough to end the series on, but realistically it just left the entire storyline in disarray.

Farscape and Firefly were the lucky exceptions. Those two were cut off unexpectedly (and Farscape in particular ended on what absolutely should NOT have finished off that series), but they at least got movies to tie them up.

Re:Ok for MMOs, perhaps... (1)

JackieBrown (987087) | more than 4 years ago | (#30749016)

I do want a story with a definite beginning, middle and end. This isn't to say that the game can't continue after the story has ended; I much preferred the way the Broken Steel DLC allowed you to continue exploring the Capital Wastelands in Fallout 3, after you'd beaten the original game and the continuation story.

My favorite like with was Dark Sun: Shattered Lands [wikipedia.org]

Re:Ok for MMOs, perhaps... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30749042)

"My real bug-bear are the games which eschew a real ending because they're angling for a sequel (or even an entire franchise), but never deliver on this."

Oh, how I hate this. Games, movies and series increasingly often just stop mid-story, on the off chance they might be able to milk the IP for more money. The only thing you can do is not buy from big publishers. Medium/small ones usually know there won't be one or for some magical reason find a way to continue a finished story. Big corporations design the story as part of an IP portfolio that would lose value if they would ever finished it.

Re:Ok for MMOs, perhaps... (2, Insightful)

RogueyWon (735973) | more than 4 years ago | (#30749238)

I don't really think it's a big corporation thing. Square-Enix, who are really pretty big, usually take care to wrap up their stories properly. Yes, there are an awful lot of Final Fantasy games, but most of them are completely fresh stories. Occasionally, they'll revisit a story they've already created, such as with FFX-2 or FFVII: Crisis Core, but in each of those cases, the original story pretty much stands by itself, and you're free to ignore the new component if you want (in fact, FFX has one of my favorite game endings ever). Bioware are also very good at wrapping up stories; yes, there are often a few loose ends at the end of their games, but by and large, the plot has been resolved perfectly well (usually with a choice of endings). And then there's Metal Gear Solid 4; the plot is far from flawless (it's confusing, often badly told and massively over-convoluted), but the ending is as comprehensive an ending to both a game and a franchise as you could ever want to get.

I guess the counter-example must come from a recent EA game: Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2, which had the worst ending of any game I've encountered for years. However, there are other EA titles with perfectly satisfactory endings. At the same time, I can think of low-budget indie-type games which have been blatantly angling for a sequel.

Re:Ok for MMOs, perhaps... (3, Interesting)

lorenlal (164133) | more than 4 years ago | (#30749364)

The first thing I thought of when reading the summary was "I don't think Square fits here." FFVI had a half hour ending, and that was on the SNES.

But I don't really see this effect. For example, GTA IV does have an end to the plot. Now, there's still the open world that you can keep playing in, but the storyline has a conclusion. Modern Warfare 1 had a concrete ending, and it was pretty good.

I'd argue that this isn't an industry wide trend as much as EA... I mean, their biggest franchises are the sports games which of course have no ending and rely on multiplayer as the platform... and EA has a history of taking great franchises and tanking them.

But IIRC, EA didn't have anything to do with EA. That was Activision.

Re:Ok for MMOs, perhaps... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30749532)

crysis.
god I hated that. it has deprived me of my gamer innocence. you know, there is this big island, one huge cruiser spawn out, you kill it, there are more coming, you set out to return to the island to kill the source of that damn things aaaaaaaaaaaand...

credit starts. that was the actual game ending. the most shitty ending ever, after an extra short campaign.

I want at least 50% of the purchase price back.

Re:Ok for MMOs, perhaps... (2, Funny)

BoredAtWorkWhatElse (936972) | more than 4 years ago | (#30749732)

Occasionally, they'll revisit a story they've already created, such as with FFX-2

I'm pretty sure that game never existed ... just like they never did any sequel to Final Fantasy Tactics.

Re:Ok for MMOs, perhaps... (1)

denton420 (1235028) | more than 4 years ago | (#30750650)

You see a wide spread in the quality of endings from games put out by EA because they are simply the publisher and not the developer in many cases.

While EA has a say in matters that determine its profits for the most part the creative integrity of the project is up to the publisher...

Re:Ok for MMOs, perhaps... (3, Insightful)

PhotoBoy (684898) | more than 4 years ago | (#30749596)

I hate this too. I'm still upset Shenmue II ended on a massive cliffhanger with Sega clearly not intending to finish the story.

More recently Ubisoft have been doing it in a lot of their games, and in the case of the Prince of Persia reboot, they've already abandoned it for a Sands of Time sequel to cash-in on the film coming out this summer.

Re:Ok for MMOs, perhaps... (2, Interesting)

krou (1027572) | more than 4 years ago | (#30749140)

Completely agree. Sequels should be about fresh ideas and new stories, maybe reusing some old characters, or allowing you to import save data from the old game. Otherwise, what you end up with is the computer game equivalent of some never-ending TV series. It's incredibly frustrating to play through to the end and have no conclusion, and have no real idea whether the end will be in sight at all. At the very least, if a game company plans on angling for the sequel, then make sure you've got the funding to design the release of your game as a trilogy or similar so that it's clearly marketed as such, like with books.

Re: TL;DR (0, Offtopic)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | more than 4 years ago | (#30749188)

NT

"It's incredibly frustrating to READ through to the end OF A POST and have no conclusion, and have no real idea whether the end will be in sight at all.

---
Sig voted off the show: "+1 Funny is a battle between writing something smart enough to earn it vs. a mod who didn't get it."

Re:Ok for MMOs, perhaps... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30749356)

On the reverse side of Gundam, there's Big O.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Big_O

Quite a good science fiction/film noir styleanime about a city where everyone's lost their memories. Toss in giant robots, an interesting cast of friends and villains, and a Bruce Wayne like hero and you've got Big O. (A common jokes about the show is that it's what would've happened if Bruce Wayne had created a giant robot)

The original season was produced in Japan and ended on a cliffhanger with quite a few unanswered questions, but was still vaguely acceptable as an ending. A few years later Cartoon Network funded a second season (A rare occasion where a western company funds an anime). The second season was just filled with cliffhangers and pure confusion. The writer of the show was said to be angling for a third season, but funding dried up due to poor sales leaving fans with an acceptable, but question filled, ending.

Greed is exactly it. Cliffhangers are written precisely to grab people and demand that a new season is given. Most of the times writers will go "Hey, if we could do it the first time..." But this philosophy can lead to fans being left with a highly unsatisfactory, rushed ending.

Also, don't get me started on Code Geass. The first season ended with the protagonist and the antagonist (Arguable during all 26 episodes of the whole damned show as to who the good guy and who the bad guy is) standing face to face for the first time, the protagonist with a bomb strapped on his chest and a gun aimed at the antagonist. And then it ended. Had to wait a DAMNED YEAR to get the next season and learn what happened. Please, Jesus, I know the entire show was built on putting a cliffhanger at the end of each episode, but that was just purely ridiculous.

Re:Ok for MMOs, perhaps... (2, Interesting)

RogueyWon (735973) | more than 4 years ago | (#30749554)

Yes, getting a bit off the original topic, the anime industry does seem to have a few specific bad habits that it falls into regularly regarding endings (and even middles).

The most common, of course, is the "shonen power escalator", where a show that might originally have been interesting and quirky (the original Dragon Ball being the classic example, though there are others) eventually boils down to having the (teenaged, male, skilled-in-martial-arts) male lead go through a never-ending cycle of power-ups to fight apparently ever-stronger foes. Apparently this kind of thing sells really well to 13 year olds (internationally as well as in Japan), so the temptation to take this direction with show (or manga series) that has the potential to fit the template must be huge.

Then there's the "rolling cliffhangers", you mention, with, as I agree, Code Geass being one of the worst examples. For a show that made such a strong impression with its first 10-15 episodes, that show ended up as a complete train-wreck. When they did finally "resolve" the cliff-hanger of the first season ending, they copped out massively and then spent most of the second series doing a near-identical re-telling of the first. From what I've heard, Geass had a pretty troubled development, with the production team being messed around something rotten by the studio/networks etc. I kind of hope this is true, because it would at least add some semblance of reason to the matter.

And then there's the "incredibly abrupt ending", particularly prevalent in action series, where the end credits start rolling as soon as the "big bad" bites the dust. Gundam series have a particularly awful record here; Wing and the original SEED being perhaps the worst. That said, Turn A's ending was done properly, and the extended version of the SEED Destiny ending works reasonably well. But yes, if you're going to make me sit through a 26 episode series, I kind of want a bit of "aftermath" at the end. If it's a 50 episode series, then giving proper closure is absolutely not optional.

Re:Ok for MMOs, perhaps... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30749658)

And then there's the "incredibly abrupt ending", particularly prevalent in action series, where the end credits start rolling as soon as the "big bad" bites the dust. Gundam series have a particularly awful record here; Wing and the original SEED being perhaps the worst. That said, Turn A's ending was done properly, and the extended version of the SEED Destiny ending works reasonably well. But yes, if you're going to make me sit through a 26 episode series, I kind of want a bit of "aftermath" at the end. If it's a 50 episode series, then giving proper closure is absolutely not optional.

Do not, I repeat, DO NOT read anything by Neal Stephenson if you dislike abrupt endings. I really cannot stress this enough.

Re:Ok for MMOs, perhaps... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30749380)

FYI, Lord of the Rings Online is made by Turbine (which also does Asheron's Call and D&D Online); Codemasters is just their European publisher (handling distribution, customer support, and translation for the Euro editions).

The "Epic" quests in LotRO not only tell long and involved stories that frequently have definite endings; those quest arcs do also end with cinematic cutscenes, and frequently have tie-ins with other quests in nearby areas. It's a very good game, though it falls into the shadow of WoW for a lot of people (it's another fantasy MMO, with basically the same controls and mechanics...), despite having a number of notable differences (dramatically different art style, for example). I encourage you to try it out if you want to see a different take on story in an MMO.

Disclaimer: I am an ex-Turbine employee, though I spent almost all my time there on D&D Online.

Re:Ok for MMOs, perhaps... (1)

RogueyWon (735973) | more than 4 years ago | (#30749482)

Apologies for the mix-up on the developer. I did have a subscription for a while and just remembered seeing "Codemasters" on my credit card bills. I should have checked.

Unfortunately, playing two MMOs at the same wasn't going to work for me and while LOTR:O looked pretty good to me, I was deeply enough embedded in WoW at the time that I didn't feel like starting afresh.

Re:Ok for MMOs, perhaps... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30749392)

And then there is Seinfeld, which obey its own special laws...

Re:Ok for MMOs, perhaps... (1)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 4 years ago | (#30749504)

Agreed.

I think the only tv/entertainment laws you can push on Seinfeld are its own. What works for other shows would never have worked for Seinfeld, and vice versa.

Re:Ok for MMOs, perhaps... (1)

bickerdyke (670000) | more than 4 years ago | (#30749634)

Sometimes, ending a show can be the best thing that's ever happened to it.

See "Life on Mars". I only picked up the DVDs cause I knew it would end after ca. 20 episodes (read: deliver a good ending before it bores me to death) The spin of (Ashes to Ashes) was similar enough to be considered season 3&4, but different enough to stand on its own.

Stargate (3, Interesting)

phorm (591458) | more than 4 years ago | (#30750250)

One of the things that was perhaps best for the Stargate Atlantis and SG-1 series was that they were fairly faithful to their "meme" throughout the series, and then came to a fairly definitive conclusion.
OK, well actually in the case of Atlantis the wraith are still out there etc - which might leave room for a movie - but the series was "completed" rather than be allowed to trail off until it was just a murmuring gurgle as it was pulled off life support.
IMHO, Atlantis was a fairly successful way to "conclude" one series (SG-1) and start another. There's a definitive relation between the two, and even cameos and intersecting plot-arcs, but the overall focus of the two series was different enough to lend it some uniqueness, and the characters were different between the two.

Unfortunately SG-U seems to break-down because, while having a new setting and characters, it also tries was too hard to focus on some fairly tired memes and doesn't seem to have nearly as strong a plot base as its predecessors.

Re:Stargate (2, Insightful)

pnewhook (788591) | more than 4 years ago | (#30750898)

Love Stargete, and SGU is ok but I think it is trying way to hard to mimic the BSG look and feel.

Re:Ok for MMOs, perhaps... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30751272)

For MMOs, I think this is forgivable. After all, they're supposed to be persistent worlds. That said, a competent MMO developer will set up storylines for players to work through (either at their own pace, or a pace forced by in-game world events). The two MMOs I've played both do this; WoW and Final Fantasy XI. I understand that the real masters in this field are Codemasters, with Lord of the Rings Online, but a variety of other factors have always kept me away from that game. Interestingly, I understand that Blizzard will actually be adding a proper ending cutscene in the next WoW patch, for guilds that manage to take down Arthas. Given this will be the culmination of a major plot arc that kicked off years ago in Warcraft 3, I heartily approve.

I agree with all your major points but there is something that my inner pedant can't leave alone. I play Lord of the Rings Online (and have since part of the closed Beta) and the story lines are indeed masterful. However, Codemasters has nothing to do with the development of the game, they are just the European distributor. Turbine [turbine.com] is the game's developer and so they are responsible for all aspects of the game.

Half baked (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30748970)

To MMORPGs you can also add "sandbox" games, where the player would probably prefer being able to roam around rather than being forcibly kicked out.

But other than that, I struggle to think of games that lacked a real ending. Fable 2? MGS4? Dragon Age? The concept of endings still seems pretty entrenched.

Re:Half baked (1)

FictionPimp (712802) | more than 4 years ago | (#30749382)

KOTOR 2.

The game had an 'ending' but it was so rushed it didn't make sense. The last battle seemed like you were suppose to have done something else first and the dialog made it seem like you missed a bunch of content.

Plus there were character storylines (like HK) t hat were never finished. It was a god damn let down at the end.

Re:Half baked (2, Interesting)

delinear (991444) | more than 4 years ago | (#30750956)

You probably already know, but there's a project to try and restore the missing segments of KOTOR2 [team-gizka.org] . I didn't play it so I don't know how bad it was or how good the restoration project is but it might help give you some sense of closure :)

Inaccurate (5, Insightful)

rodrigoandrade (713371) | more than 4 years ago | (#30748972)

All arcade, most Atari 2600 and some NES games had no ending and consisted of stacking more and more points, until your thumbs bled or the PCB fried. That was the whole fun of it. The old school-way to do it.

It's when games started telling stories (example, Final Fantasy) that we had elaborate plots and game endings.

But now with the MMORPG craze, every publisher wants a piece of the action (and profit). Game endings are out, micro payments, subscriptions, DLCs are in.

It'll be a truly sad day when all we have to play are Disney MMO, Star Wars MMO, Warcraft MMO, Sonic MMO, Tomb Raider MMO, Halo MMO, etc.

Re:Inaccurate (5, Insightful)

BlackBloq (702158) | more than 4 years ago | (#30749200)

Take Dragon age ... what a piss off! They have some douchebag standing around in the party camp screen. He looks like a dude with something to say but... when you speak to him you realize hat he is only there to get more REAL cash from you for the companies! Right from the start of the game they LOCK OUT content from the storey so you have to pay to play from the start! This is significantly different then making content post game development to add value or dimension or just fun (plate armor for your horse in oblivion) . Whats next is the Nexon model takes over. You can 'buy' all your content (equipment) in game and it expires! Not only that, Maple story sells kids cards that get you in game items and in game cash at 711 stores! I've seen an eleven year old blow $50 in one glee-filled spree of waste. That's like $500 to an adult! And all that stuff expires IE: gets deleted! Well I've got to go buy a tractor for my farm in farmville! see ya!

Re:Inaccurate (2, Insightful)

krelian (525362) | more than 4 years ago | (#30749826)

The ones you should blame are those who pay for DLC.

Re:Inaccurate (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30750448)

Yeah, blame the players who just want to enjoy the game, not the profiteering assholes who designed it. Great plan.

Re:Inaccurate (1)

delinear (991444) | more than 4 years ago | (#30751134)

It's not necessarily the DLC with Dragon Age that's the problem, I could have lived without that, but the only way to get a "stash" for your equipment is to buy that same piece of DLC. Otherwise you're severely hampered when you're carrying everything you own in game and can't pick up new stuff to sell, in that case you have little choice if you want to get the most from the game.

Same thing with Borderlands, you have to buy the DLC if you want to have any extra stash space (and even then they've limited it when it would be fairly trivial to give you almost unlimited space, presumably so they can sell you extra storage at a later date). In cases like this you either suffer diminished enjoyment of the game or you pay up to get the most out of it - it's either waste £40 or spend ~£5 extra. Of course, it might make you think twice about buying sequels to those games in the future, but I don't think it's always entirely fair to blame the gamer for the initial DLC purchase.

Re:Inaccurate (1)

plover (150551) | more than 4 years ago | (#30749366)

The Colossal Cave Adventure had an elaborate game ending and it was written in 1972, years before the Atari 2600 was even created. Old school indeed.

(Of course prior to that we had Hunt the Wumpus and Blackjack, neither of which had a classic story ending.)

I think you're right regarding the story nature of games being the type that delivered entertaining endings, but I think it took a combination of time, technology and imagination to come up with the idea of a story based game. Craps or Blackjack were easy ports of traditional "games". Creating interactive fiction as a game took a lot longer, required a lot more resources (or careful reuse of the resources you had), and a whole lot more work.

Re:Inaccurate (1)

rgviza (1303161) | more than 4 years ago | (#30750252)

Inaccurate. Arcade games and 2600 games turned over (space invaders, asteroids etc.) or you finished them (pole position, dragon's lair). PCB's didn't fry.

Been there, done it. Games you finish came about in the early 80's as a response to long lines at machines and people's capability to turn them over and play them indefinitely. If you could play for 3 days on the same quarter, the machine wasn't making any money. With pole position you finished the race. With Dragon's Lair you rescued the princess.

Can't speak to NES because I was in college when that came out and I didn't play games any more, well, except tetris in the quad =D

Re:Inaccurate (1)

pnewhook (788591) | more than 4 years ago | (#30750982)

Maybe the score counter rolled over but the game itself just got harder and harder (or in some cases maxed out).

I thenk the article is inaccurate. When I think of 'classic games' I think of pac-man, joust, centipede, galaxia, etc. These were all games where there was no ending at all. The games with clear cut endings came much later.

Re:Inaccurate (1)

geminidomino (614729) | more than 4 years ago | (#30751206)

When you got too far in Pac-Man in the arcade, the game glitched and the screen went wonky. Not really a PCB frying, but...

Re:Inaccurate (1)

geminidomino (614729) | more than 4 years ago | (#30751192)

most Atari 2600

Say it with me, old-schoolers...

FUCK YOU, Sword Quest!!!

Misrepresents history (4, Informative)

slim (1652) | more than 4 years ago | (#30748984)

My memory of classic games is of games that you'd have to be superhuman to finish.

Games like Thrust, that do have a set number of levels - but then you play through again with reverse gravity, then with invisible landscapes, then with both at once.

Or Chuckie Egg, where you end up contending with all the enemies at once, turned invisible.

Elite didn't stop when you reached Elite status. You could play on and on.

Yes, there were also games on home computers and 8/16 bit consoles with a beginning, middle and end , and a "Congraturations" page.

But open ended games came first, and since then it's always been the case that both types of game were out there.

Re:Misrepresents history (0)

suso (153703) | more than 4 years ago | (#30749174)

Someone mode parent up simply for mentioning Elite.

Re:Misrepresents history (1)

happy_place (632005) | more than 4 years ago | (#30750752)

What games can you remember that Actually had a decent ending? Most people who buy a single-player game, don't finish them, and when it comes to testing, it's prohibitively more expensive to test the game from beginning to end. In some ways it's better to offer an open-ended sort of game that doesn't end, than a game that ends but hasn't been tested and therefore has some scripting bug that renders the ending unobtanium. I remember when I first started in games, we had a product that we released, the final level was impossible to win. Another game we offered some hundred levels, and some guy contacts us the day after the game is released, and says, "Are there are any more levels?" We thought it would take months to finish, this guy had it all done in less than a day. When a game ends, there's always someone who thinks you didn't provide enough content (this was a common complaint about Nintendo gamecube games). So it's something of a rock and a hard place.

Re:Misrepresents history (1)

DutchUncle (826473) | more than 4 years ago | (#30750882)

Pong and Space Invaders just got faster and faster until you couldn't possibly keep up. No such thing as "finish"; more of a race against clock and record book.

As noted above, it takes the stylistic move into "telling a story" to need an ending, and that move requires more of a computer and a database. The first games had playing logic but very little memory.

tetris (1)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 4 years ago | (#30748990)

So MDK is out and Tetris is in?

Tetris has an ending (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#30750626)

Tetris has an ending, but fewer than a dozen people have seen it. For one thing, you have to be good enough to move three pieces into place per second or more, even when they disappear after locking into place. Watch this video [youtube.com] and fast forward to five minutes in.

Old games (4, Insightful)

Mr_Silver (213637) | more than 4 years ago | (#30749022)

Particularly before the advent of 'saving,' the completion of even a simple game could take huge amounts of patience, effort and time. The ending, like those last pages of a book, was a key reason why we started playing in the first place.

I have a PSP with custom firmware and I went back and played some of those old games and, for me, the "patience, effort and time" needed to play the same damn levels over and over again (because I kept dying at the same key spot!) began to wear very thin very quickly.

Sometimes I think we look back on old games with too much nostalgia. Whilst there are undoubtedly some really good games, a lot of them were just an exercise in frustration and slow methodical progress - something I don't derive much enjoyment from any more.

Re:Old games (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30749494)

Sometimes I think we look back on old games with too much nostalgia. Whilst there are undoubtedly some really good games, a lot of them were just an exercise in frustration and slow methodical progress - something I don't derive much enjoyment from any more.

Was anyone else 5 years old when they received their first NES? My parents distinctly remember the frustrated screams of this young child coming from the game room.

On a positive note, all the exercise in frustration has prepared me for a lucrative career in .NET development.

Re:Old games (3, Insightful)

TheAndruu (1475165) | more than 4 years ago | (#30750144)

For a lot of us, we were kids in those times we look back at those old games, and as kids, we had so little other things going on that we could focus our determination on finishing those games. Now other items take priority, like work and family. Plus most kids I knew growing up only had a few games, since you had to wait for birthdays or other holidays to get those games you really wanted. And since our attention was divided among only a few games, we'd often pick our favorite and play it over and over. Now I can just go out and buy a new game whenever I want, cutting down the replay time of old games.

Re:Old games (1)

dangitman (862676) | more than 4 years ago | (#30750544)

Sometimes I think we look back on old games with too much nostalgia. Whilst there are undoubtedly some really good games, a lot of them were just an exercise in frustration and slow methodical progress - something I don't derive much enjoyment from any more.

For proof of this, just watch these videos. [cinemassacre.com]

Re:Old games (1)

geminidomino (614729) | more than 4 years ago | (#30751262)

I have a PSP with custom firmware and I went back and played some of those old games and, for me, the "patience, effort and time" needed to play the same damn levels over and over again (because I kept dying at the same key spot!) began to wear very thin very quickly.

Sometimes I think we look back on old games with too much nostalgia. Whilst there are undoubtedly some really good games, a lot of them were just an exercise in frustration and slow methodical progress - something I don't derive much enjoyment from any more.

I was wondering about that myself, thanks to the punishment that is Mega Man 9. I couldn't figure out if I used to play games like that when I was a kid (in my sleep) and I am just getting old, or if the game is harder than past incarnations. It seems about on-par except for some "cheap" parts (the sucking-elephant/ball/pit room in concrete man, e.g.)

Resale (5, Insightful)

Grr (15821) | more than 4 years ago | (#30749026)

What the article fails to mention is the underlying reason for this: resale. If a gamer finishes the game it is done, a coaster in a pretty box. If the game always has something left to do, whether in the form of downloadable content, achievements, replayability or open endedness, it will retain some value and not end up traded in for a new game quite so soon. The game resale market may seem pretty small (mostly because stores take a huge second profit margin on them), but add to that the number of copies lended to a friend or rented for the weekend. In the end significantly more people will buy their own box if it provides limitless enjoyment.
In my opinion adding more value to a game is the most customer friendly way to do it. Far better than strong arming stores to not take trade ins or locking installations to hardware, creditcard and so on.

Re:Resale (-1, Offtopic)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 4 years ago | (#30749176)

Congratulations on the only insightful post so far, rather than adding another "Well, I think blah blah me blah me blah me" opinion. Virtual +1 from me.

Re:Resale (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30749628)

There are some games that transcend that limitation, simply because they so enjoyable.

I kept my copy of 'Grim Fandango' because I would like to play it again in a few years. Like a good movie it should bear re-watching, even if I know what is going to happen.

huh, what? (1)

phorm (591458) | more than 4 years ago | (#30750450)

In terms of profitability, an MMO etc makes more case because it requires continual investment. However a game with an ending also makes cash because what do you do when it's done... well, buy another game. Look at the Final Fantasy series. Some very basic relation between them all, but - ignoring the MMO - they all for the most-part had stories, fixed endings, and successors that sell very nicely.

As a general fan of the series, I can attest that those that have been long-term players of the series *salivate* at a new title, and certainly don't mind when one reaches the ending. That a given plot is done and is no longer to be milked is NOT a bad thing. Yes, there are crappy spinoffs like FFX-2 or "Revenant Wings," but even if they never occurred you'd still have a fairly defined ending to the originals.

Yes, I'm sure that monthly payments of $9.99 and a few shots of $30+ for addons is nice in MMO-land. But having a veritable army of geeks salivating over your next RPG (non-MMO) release with pre-orders starting at $60 is probably a pretty good sell as well.

There's also STILL a good market for remakes, for example the older NES/SNES Final Fantasy series updated for the Nintendo DS, or a good many other games that have received facelifts. I know there were a lot of people rather ticked at the unfulfilled tech demo of the PS3 (a clip from Final Fantasy VI that never actually became a full game remake), which if actually produced into a game would like have been another big money-maker.

Yes, I'm concentrating on games like Final Fantasy in particular, mainly because RPG's tend to have more in plot-land, but there are plenty of others like Zelda (heck, they sell well even though often enough the essential plot was the same), Dragon Warrior, and even Mario Bros.

An MMO that creates a continual system of revenue is a good cash-cow. It does require some maintenance (hosting, etc, see especially the issues with EVE) though and can eventually die as new MMOs come out. A solid play-through game (or movie) is a one-time investment that can still rake in a whole lot of cash, though, and a definitive ending doesn't mean that the game as a concept dies, or even that a series with a different "spin" can't evolve from it.

MMO's Do have a ending.... (2, Interesting)

ATestR (1060586) | more than 4 years ago | (#30749036)

Depends on the MMO... The one I am currently playing has LOTS of endings... and also lots of beginnings. As with any good game or story, it is composed of a whole bunch of substories, each of which can (somewhat) stand on its own to some extent, within the framework of the overall game.

Re:MMO's Do have a ending.... (0, Troll)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 4 years ago | (#30749164)

Let me clear something up for you: if the game doesn't end, then it's not an ending.

Re:MMO's Do have a ending.... (2, Informative)

ijakings (982830) | more than 4 years ago | (#30749244)

Let me clear soemthing up for you just because the game hasnt ended, doesnt mean that there isnt an ending to the storyline. Fallout 3 with the Broken Steel DLC doesnt end, but it does have an ending to the main storyline of the game, and whilst there are side quests you can still do, if you havent done them, they arent a part of the main storyline.

Re:MMO's Do have a ending.... (-1, Troll)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 4 years ago | (#30749300)

Oh, I'm sorry; I thought we were talking about game endings [slashdot.org] . Would you like to submit your own article, then we can discuss whatever it was that you were talking about?

Dumb (1)

Jojoba86 (1496883) | more than 4 years ago | (#30749040)

Another dumb article proclaiming the death of something. Counter-examples would include Half-Life 2 and the episodes, and single player in Modern Warfare. In fact Modern Warfare 2 is quite short, this seems to be the way many mass-market games are now going. And really it's not that hard to get the ending in SMG (as opposed to 120 stars). Some people don't have time to play all the games they want (myself included), so I try to be selective so the games I do play so I get a conclusion to the story. On the other hand I didn't like Bioshock so much, so didn't complete it, this is no different to the situation in the past.

Re:Dumb (1)

Canazza (1428553) | more than 4 years ago | (#30749182)

HL2 Episodes kinda already have an infinite middle and no ending...

Re:Dumb (1)

FictionPimp (712802) | more than 4 years ago | (#30749426)

Yea, portal was a great game with a great ending and it was still open ended enough to allow a sequel. Even if they choose not to make a sequel it still stands by itself.

Small vs. big Ending (4, Informative)

mseeger (40923) | more than 4 years ago | (#30749046)

The "ending" is not going out of style. But instead of one "grand ending" there are now more smaller ones. While reaching a big ending may be quite satisfying, not all players are able to achieve it with 20-40 hours of gaming time. So several small endings may help them to enjoy games more. If this is good or bad depends on the individual taste.

I remember from my WoW-times, that killing Ragnaros or Lady Vashji (which were only small endings) for the first time was vastly more satisfying than any other game ending. Small endings does not mean small satisfaction.

CU, Martin

The first never-ending MMORPG (4, Funny)

Max(10) (1716458) | more than 4 years ago | (#30749048)

There is no real 'finish' to most MMORPGs.

Duke Nukem 3D was one of the last multiplayer games to feature a cool ending [youtube.com] . 3D Realms then decided to set a new trend of never-ending MMORPGs with Duke Nukem Forever. Playing other MMORPGs while waiting for the release of Duke Nukem Forever is the first never-ending MMORPG.

Modern endings (2, Insightful)

lyinhart (1352173) | more than 4 years ago | (#30749090)

One big change in modern game endings is the fact that it doesn't seem like much of an accomplishment to finish a games. Games these days generally have mid-level checkpoints and infinite continues, so there's no satisfaction in reaching the end. You just feel like endlessly grinding to the end. Also, the concept of "completing" a game has changed. Whereas it once meant clearing all the stages in a game, completion might mean unlocking all the game content (e.g. 100% completion levels in Gran Turismo, or getting all the "achievements" in some titles).

Re:Modern endings (1)

Inda (580031) | more than 4 years ago | (#30749646)

It disapoints me. I 'finished' L4D2 in two days; 8 hours of game play and I was gutted. It was a Christmas present from the wife and she looked shocked when I told her. I guess I shouldn't have picked the easy setting...

These 100% cheevos are often too hard, or require online friends which, at my age, are hard to find.

Bring back long levels and only 3 lives!

Re:Modern endings (1)

DisKurzion (662299) | more than 4 years ago | (#30749912)

On the Xbox at least, this is easy to do:

Step 1: Join Scavenge mode with your mic on, play with randoms.
Step 2: Rate the players you encounter...prefer the more mature ones, dislike the screaming 14 yr old.
Step 3: Add players you come to recognize/come to recognize you.

Doing this, I've added 3 L4D2 buddies, on top of my RL friends who own the game.

Re:Modern endings (1)

spitzig (73300) | more than 4 years ago | (#30751026)

Why play a game if it feels like "grinding"? I recently tried an MMORPG(I don't usually play them). When it started feeling like grinding, I stopped. I play games because they are fun. They make me happy. Sometimes the ending is part of that.

Back when I was a kid, and couldn't afford as many games, had more time to waste, AND games were shorter, I'd almost always finish a game I bought. Things are different now.

No more multiple endings (1)

ElusiveJoe (1716808) | more than 4 years ago | (#30749092)

I guess games switched from book to comics style. Always save a room for a sequel, or a spin-off, or even a mix-up with another game (Mortal Kombat vs DC Universe, for example). But it doesn't mean a single release won't have an end, that's impossible. What can really disappear, is games with multiple endings like Deus Ex or Fahrenheit, because they give sequel makers a pain in the ass (think Deus Ex 2).

Gaming compared to other entertainment avenues (2, Interesting)

ultral0rd (1595449) | more than 4 years ago | (#30749136)

You can compare gaming to the movie and TV industry. Games designed with no end in sight are like TV shows whose life is controlled by the interest of the public, where other games with definite endings could be compared to movies. Sure TV shows do give you that feeling of really getting to grips with the characters and the story, and lore.. But who turns down a great Movie for that dose of fast paced intense action? If gaming with set endings ever came to an end, it would truly be a horrible state of affairs for the gaming world. IMHO that feeling of "clocking" a game should never vanish.

This has nothing to do with "no ending". (2, Informative)

f0rk (1328921) | more than 4 years ago | (#30749158)

The article mentioned something about open ended worlds, score grindeing, and top scores.
This has nothing to do with an ending. If a game has a story (MMOs excepted), it will most likely have a clear cut end of the story, but if you get a chance to continue after the end is a completely different thing. Its called replay value. Take Fallout 3 as an example, it has a clear cut end, but is has a DLC that unlocks gameplay after your done. This is not to continue the story, but rather give you the opportunity to extend and fill the gaps you miss if you don't do every side quest there is in the game. I would call it a rich story with the unfortunate side effect of having to much detail for the average gamer joe to be playable if mandatory.

Most open ended games are like this.

Re:This has nothing to do with "no ending". (1)

imakemusic (1164993) | more than 4 years ago | (#30750300)

The ending in Fallout 3 annoyed me.

SPOILER ALERT!
I didn't realise it was the last mission. I'd just met a radiation-resistant mutant who I got on my side and who has done some missions for me in radioactive areas that I can't access. Then it comes to the last bit and I have to go into a highly radioactive room and will surely die. "Can't you do this bit for me?" I ask my radiation-proof friend. "No," he says, "It is your destiny." And so I die and the story and the game itself end. Couldn't meeting the mutant unlock a different ending whereby I survive the finale and go on to finish all my current missions and find all the others that I haven't started? In short - to play the rest of the game? Or couldn't I get some kind of warning that that mission was going to be the end of the game so that I can avoid doing it? I was just getting into it!

The ending is why we play? (1)

mmcxii (1707574) | more than 4 years ago | (#30749272)

The ending, like those last pages of a book, was a key reason why we started playing in the first place.

Really? I don't recall this. For me the pleasures in the play. While certain games need to work out to some kind of resolution I do not play just to get to the end. Nor have I ever read a book just to get to the end. A few movies out there are pretty mediocre until the end but I rarely find the ending so good that I'm willing to put up with 1.5-3 hours of crap for a fantastic 5 minutes at the end.

Divergence? (2, Interesting)

malkavian (9512) | more than 4 years ago | (#30749288)

For some games, I can see that there's no need for an ending (the 'arena' styles). For many (personally, I'm an RPG fan, and love story), there needs to be an end. Or at least a 'volume end', where you can say a subplot has finished, though the world goes on.
With DLC, I think it may well be that the world does carry on, and producers will make the longer episodic content where the 'end' of the main story still has the characters with 'loose ends' to tie up, and hints that more will be going on.. That will allow greater engine and world reuse, giving more content per release, and longer story arcs than possible with individual releases.
'Ends' meet a nice psychological satisfaction point. You've seen the trials, tribulations and interplay that creates an end point, and you get to reap the rewards of your endeavours (so, multiple endings should be de-facto these days; play the way you want, and get the reward you deserve). You get the 'payoff' that keeps people striving for something. Nothing wrong with having sequential 'ends' and ongoing subplots, but in a lot of games, certainly for the story minded (which is quite a few), I don't think true 'endless' games, especially in single player, would work that well in the long term..

Re:Divergence? (1)

bfandreas (603438) | more than 4 years ago | (#30749890)

I also like stories and I also don't like loose ends. Yet in some cases the ending of a game was less than stellar and left a sour tast in your mouth. Take for instance the first Eye of the Beholder in the PC version. It had a very nice animated beginning. Well, at least for those days. Yet the end was a single text screen. When it comes to MMOs the only end you get is either the end to an epic quest line or the death of the game. Epic quest lines have become rare. Competitive mulitplayer games focus on something different. In most cases you simply want to be on top of a ladder and stay there as long as you can. The end of the satisfying game ending propably came when adventure games dropped out of the mainstream.

Re:Divergence? (1)

BetterSense (1398915) | more than 4 years ago | (#30750808)

I'm playing Odin sphere right now, and in that game you play through as multiple different characters, and get a different story perspective each time. You even fight different sides of the boss battles in the different storylines--kind of "fighting yourself". So every 10 hours or so, you complete a complete mini-rpg with its own character's storyline, but with an overarching storyline that involves everyone. I thought it was a fresh take on "ending" considering you get to complete a relatively short, though satisfying game, and then when you start the next character it's like starting a whole new game. Also the 2d graphics are absolutely stunning at times, easily more stunning than the photorealistic 3D wondergames whose visual impact is starting to wear off.

It's the Journey. (1)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 4 years ago | (#30749294)

Games should be about the journey, -not- the ending. If a bad ending can ruin the entire game for you, then you're playing them wrong.

Personally, I prefer games that have an 'ending' but then allow you to continue playing anyhow. End of the storyline shouldn't mean end of my playtime. Fallout3 made this mistake, then fixed it with some DLC. There were a -lot- of complaints about the game ending after the final quest.

Re:It's the Journey. (1)

Half-pint HAL (718102) | more than 4 years ago | (#30749458)

Maybe so, but isn't it the promise of the ending that motivates the journey and gives it meaning?

Socra^H^H^H^H^HHAL.

Re:It's the Journey. (1)

Keill (920526) | more than 4 years ago | (#30750406)

It's more than that - they are actually DEFINED by the process, and not any ending - a perpetual game is fully within the definition - or should be - (I've seen some theories and definitions of games that disagree though). (The word story is not defined by the fact it must end...).

Credit roll (3, Insightful)

DeanLearner (1639959) | more than 4 years ago | (#30749296)

Whatever happens, even if they stop doing it right now... I could be playing and finishing games 50 years from now and I will still wait for the credits to finish rolling on the off chance there is something at the end. I will no doubt get that awkward, "so.... do I turn the console off now then or?" feeling as well.

But.. (2, Funny)

symes (835608) | more than 4 years ago | (#30749336)

..my ADHD stops from getting even close to the end of a

Worst ending ever... (1)

tangent3 (449222) | more than 4 years ago | (#30749370)

This is the ending from Eye of the Beholder, fast forward to 4:45

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2dmbryaF6pU [youtube.com]

After killing Xanathar, you get 2 pages of text and throw out into C:\>

I play Slashdot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30749374)

Slashdot is my favorite MMORPG with no ending and I'll keep playing it as long as at least once a week someone here ask to subscribe to my newsletter. Ok, now gimme some lovin', group hug!

Re:I play Slashdot (1)

selven (1556643) | more than 4 years ago | (#30749672)

now gimme some lovin', group hug!

Your ideas are intriguing to me and I would like to subscribe to your newsletter.

My take... (3, Interesting)

Crock23A (1124275) | more than 4 years ago | (#30749518)

Video game endings have always been of interest to me. Ever since my siblings and I first starting Super Mario Bros. in the 1980s, that and subsequent game completions were fun to discuss and play around with. We discovered that turning the volume all the way up on the TV during the ending song produced a much different sounding song and purposefully annoyed the adults around. Then one of us beat Castlevaina 2: Simon's quest and I discovered not only that game endings could have awesome, uplifting music, but that there could be alternate endings!. The simple fact that there were 2 endings gave the game great value in re-playability. Fast forward to today and game endings have less of an impact. More emphasis goes to the 'completion' of a game, as in getting 100% achievements or the equivalent. You also have to factor in the cliff-hanger endings. Too many games leave it open to a possible sequel. As the area matures even further I'm sure things will continue to change.

Honestly, it depends. (1)

TaggartAleslayer (840739) | more than 4 years ago | (#30749566)

Not all books, films, or games need to wrap everything up in one installment. Pick up Fellowship of the Ring sometime and let me know how much you would enjoy the series if you stopped right there. Do the same with any other famous trilogy or long running series. The Empire Strikes Back certainly didn't end with everything tidied up in the story-arc department.

Just because we've become used to single, stand-alone, do it once and be done with it video game packages, doesn't mean they all have to be that way, or that entertainment in general is best appreciated in that format.

I personally enjoy when a game remains open-ended. I don't mind cliffhanger endings as long as the experience is rewarding. The key is making the experience rewarding. That's the reason I purchase games like Dragon Age. I want the game to continue. I want the expansions and extended content. It's the same reason I read series like Game of Thrones. I like my characters and established universe to keep going.

That isn't to say you can't have story in there with pivotal points, such as the climax of Dragon Age, or the end of A Song of Fire and Ice, but I know in each case that there will be more to come, and it isn't over. That's a good thing if done properly.

There's room for both sorts of stories. There always has been and there always will be.

Re:Honestly, it depends. (1)

Joe Random (777564) | more than 4 years ago | (#30750238)

Pick up Fellowship of the Ring sometime and let me know how much you would enjoy the series if you stopped right there. Do the same with any other famous trilogy or long running series

The Lord of the Rings was actually written as a single book (or more accurately, a single novel composed of six internal "books"), but the publisher decided to split it into three physical parts for economic reasons. So Fellowship of the Ring was not originally written to be part of a trilogy.

FRANCHISE (1)

Rivalz (1431453) | more than 4 years ago | (#30749572)

End games pretty much died when they decided to have franchises that constantly regurgitate the same story. This goes back for as long as I have been playing games. Wing Commander, Wolfenstien, Donkey Kong, Pac Man.... there is always a sequel, story, and never ending story.... Now games are have no ending because the dev cycle has shrunk and demand is the same..

it's not the ending... (1)

Ephemeriis (315124) | more than 4 years ago | (#30749674)

It isn't the ending that's going out of style, it's the plot.

The reason we had an ending before, is because we had a plot. There was a beginning a middle and an end. Exposition, rising action, climax, and resolution. These days a lot of games don't have much of a plot.

Instead, you'll have a setting... You're some random soldier in WWII, or a grunt running around World of Warcraft... And there really isn't any exposition or climax or anything like that... It's just kind of a day in the life of...

And that's fine for something like an MMO or a multiplayer-oriented FPS or something...

But I'm starting to see single-player games that don't have much of a plot either. Individual missions/levels/whatever might have some kind of plot to them... Maybe you're trying to keep the enemy from capturing the fuel dump or whatever... But the game as a whole is just kind of a collection of random missions strung together. There isn't any real story being told - other than these are the things that this guy did.

And when you have no overall plot, you can't really have much of an ending.

Of course, just like blockbuster hollywood (1)

hesaigo999ca (786966) | more than 4 years ago | (#30749714)

How do you keep open the possibility of making more movies using the same characters....
a small but not very finished ending.
Take for example the hardcore movie Wolverine Origins (XMen). The ending with deadpool's head being severed but then his eyes still opening after it takes a fall down the 100feet high silo....makes me think they might want to imply that they technically could do some
Deadpool movie should there be an interest, as we all know how hard Deadpool is to kill. I actually liked deapool and thought the director made a very successful attempt at introducing him as a sort of interesting character. As for using ryan renolds to play him, well that does have merit (when you think of which comedian could actually pull off his comic awareness ability...speaking to the camera ...a bit like Chevy Chase back in the day...)

Anyways, video games are now more successful then movies, and grossing so much revenue that really, this was the next logical step...
splinter cell 3,4,5,6,7....11,22,33....105,106... it does not matter as long as there is an audience.

Completed stories in Japanese Culture (1)

psnyder (1326089) | more than 4 years ago | (#30749948)

Japanese TV stations put their most high profile dramas on at popular times just like American TV stations. But what's interesting from an outside perspective is that these are constantly new stories, usually either 13 or 26 episodes long, with beginnings, middles, and ends.

Yes, there are sequels sometimes, but usually these involve the same characters with a completely new problem/story that also has a beginning, middle, and end.

While I'm not a huge fan of TV dramas, a few of these have sucked me in because the writers move the story along, and it makes it a lot more interesting to know that questions will be answered, and things do get resolved somehow. What gets the audiences to watch the new shows is that they often recycle the same popular actors, just in different roles.

In contrast, I've seen very little of this on American TV, except from things like "special series" on HBO. And yes, Japan has it's share of never-ending stories, but it's interesting that the most popular time slots are often filled with these "complete story" dramas.

Single player RPGs also seem to be more popular when I look at the game isle in Japan, than when I look in America. And I'll often see advertisements for them (more than when in the states). I think this is where we can still find the complete story arches and the big endings.

Just like TV, there's a following of certain people involved in the games (like Akira Toriyama [wikipedia.org] doing the art for example).

In Japan, there seems to be more of an emphasis on who is involved in these projects (TV or game), and perhaps that's what leads to more completed stories. With a famous person involved, they can always make a new story with confidence that it will sell. There is also more control over these famous people as they are much less like free-agents, and more like company people, doing the projects the company sets up for them. And there's an audience willing to pay for a new story when someone they like is involved in making it.

The 2 games the article mentions for having scant endings are Fallout 3 and GTA 4. These were made by American companies using a popular name for their game. The names were the selling point, not the studio or the people that made them. Most of the games from the 8, 16, or 32-bit eras the article has nostalgia for were made by Japanese companies.

While I can think of exceptions on both sides of the Pacific, there seems to be more of an emphasis on the completed story in entertainment from the Japanese side. At least that's my anecdotal impression.

It depends on the game, like it always has. (1)

Max Romantschuk (132276) | more than 4 years ago | (#30749976)

I've been playing the recent Tales of Monkey Island WiiWare games/chapters, and they most definitely have clear cut endings.

For us it's been a great way to have some friends over and get back into adventure gaming. The endings are welcome, a chapter can be completed in 3-4 hours, giving a great signal when to stop, get to bed, and schedule the next time.

I believe there has always been and will always be games with and without endings. And there are hybrid approaches too: For example in Super Mario Galaxy you keep playing after you've rescued Princess Peach from Bowser. The credits roll, the game ends in a sense, but you still get to go back and unlock more stuff and look for hidden levels etc...

Telegraphing the ending in real time (1)

pRtkL xLr8r (1264376) | more than 4 years ago | (#30750216)

I have to say, COD: Modern Warfare had one of the most satisfying endings I've ever played through. Part of it was the fact that you knew you were near the end when you were playing it - it wasn't an abrupt "Mission Accomplished: Game Over!"

Endings don't mean much (1)

ledow (319597) | more than 4 years ago | (#30750280)

It depends on the gamers but endings really don't mean much to me. The first game I ever completed personally was Nonterraqueous on the Spectrum... it took ages, I had my father/brother mapping my progress as I went (we were going to send it in to a magazine but, the next day, they published someone else's map of it!) and, yes, it was fun to finish it. But since then, an ending doesn't really mean much at all... I don't think I really complete the majority of games I play that *could* be completed... at some point, it stops being entertainment and starts being "training" and that's not why I play games.

My family have completed just about every Mario game in existence (including those stupid 100-levels things in the Paper Mario's) but we don't get satisfaction from finishing and frequently it's a curve - our excitement builds as we go through all the levels and unlock the last worlds and then when it gets to the tedious "You must have 50 stars / do 100 levels / beat these last ten extraordinarily difficult levels" part, our enthusiasm drops off and it becomes a chore. We usually push past that, mainly because we play those games as a family, but there's little sense of achievement when we do finish things.

And we play a lot more games that don't have any ending at all... this has been true for *years* - Gauntlet never had an ending (except on NES, I believe) but it's still a brilliant game to play. You do find yourself setting little "achievements" in those sorts of games sometimes ("Let's get to level 100 and then leave it", "Let's get further than last time", "Let's do it without skipping levels", etc.) but they are just entertainment. I can't remember the last time I *didn't* skip a cutscene / end sequence when it was possible... possibly Half-Life 2, but I had a lot of time on my hands when I was playing that and did the full HL2+Ep1+Ep2 run through in a couple of days.

Endings are really finalisations of plot and reward for those players dedicated enough. I get my reward from my own achievements (which sometimes include things like "I'll see if I can get that Steam achievement this time", admittedly) and from just playing the game. Plot is really secondary to me because even when it's excellent, it gets in the way of my freedom and play-time. To me, games for play-time, I'm under no illusion of that as an adult... I don't consider them artwork, or anything else, they are just some play-time. If I want plot, I watch a movie or (better) read a book. When I pick up a game, I just want to play.

Well how do you have an ending in a MMO? (2, Interesting)

khallow (566160) | more than 4 years ago | (#30750414)

The only way I've seen it work is to end the game for everyone in the MMO. For example, there was a web-based MMO called "FaitH" that ran roughly 2000-2007. It was a real time strategy game where people had abstract kingdoms (the group was a "kingdom" and the individuals were "emperors", I kid you not) and launched various "attacks" on rival kingdoms. The game ran in cycles called "eras" about 2-3 months long. The goal of the game was to harm other players. You could receive points for growing big (that was a valid strategy), but most of the time, the real points were in hideously bloody battles (the bloodier, the better). At the start of an era, everyone grew up as fast they could. Then the middle stretch (which lasted most of the game) involved a long, brutal grind of coordinated attacks and spells (usually some sort of speed up or war boost) among members of the kingdom. Finally, there was "Chaos" (I'm not spelling it right) where score from anything bloodshed-related was doubled or tripled. A lot of stuff was saved up for that. Then the era end, scores were calculated, and a huge list issued of everyone who played - sorted by score. Shortly thereafter, a new era would start.

A second approach was used by a web-based game called "Kings of Loathing", a parody of fantasy RPGs like WoW and Final Fantasy series. The player levels up, defeating more and more powerful monsters. At some point, they reach the final stage where the big boss (called the "Nasty Sorceress") is finally defeated and then the player reincarnates as a new player. As a reward, the player gets to keep a single skill permanently throughout the rest of their career (their stuff can be carried over, depending on the difficulty the player chooses).

To be honest, I can't think of other natural ways to end a player experience in an MMO except to end it for everyone in a big bang or to have some sort of reincarnation as a new player with a little something carried over from the old character. The fundamental constraint of MMOs is that they want the player to come back and play again. If you play through and finish, then what's going to draw you back?

Prototype did it wel (1)

anethema (99553) | more than 4 years ago | (#30750658)

In Prototype there was a full story with a satisfying ending. After the ending, you still had the whole world to continue playing in much as before. Gathering more secrets, killing more bases, improving your character etc.

I didn't play TOO much after the ending but it was still fun.

Entertainment... not commitment (1)

Temujin_12 (832986) | more than 4 years ago | (#30750870)

I've never played any of the MMOGs out there for one reason: When I play a game I'm looking for entertainment, not commitment.

Between career, marriage, kids, and trying to be involved in the community, I don't have time to sit down and dedicate hours a day to a game. If I did, then I would be doing it to the detriment of those other things. A game is just a game. Those other things are real life.

So when I look for a game to play, I look for a game that doesn't demand you spend a minimum amount of time with it in order for it to be enjoyable or has a large learning curve before it becomes enjoyable.

Recently, nearly all of my gaming (maybe 3 hours a week) is spent playing ROMS of old 8-bit and 16-bit Nintendo games. One exception to this is Wii Fit Plus. But I don't consider that a game as much as an exercise program.

DLC doesn't mean no ending. (1)

spitzig (73300) | more than 4 years ago | (#30750888)

Fallout 3's and Dragon Age's endings were both disappointing. But, Bioshock's was good. I think a couple of weak endings isn't enough to say that companies are moving away from endings. They still had endings. Using DLC as an example of a movement away from endings seems off. First, they don't usually stop the game from having it's original ending. Most DLC packs that add quests do so in the middle of the game. Those packs even have a "mini-ending".

Packs like Fallout 3's DLC that allowed people to play past the "ending" might redefine the word "ending" a little(since it doesn't really END the game). But, the big boss you beat is still there. So is the cutscene. And, actually, if you compare Fallout 3 to Fallout 2, the DLC is a movement BACK to the older style. Fallout 2 allowed one to play after the "ending".

However, really, considering games as a financial enterprise: I invest most of my time throughout the game. I don't want a huge investment at the end. Sure, maybe the coolest cutscene could go at the end, but I don't want the investment in the rest of the game to suffer because of the investment in the ending.

Dragon Age's ending had a solid hint at a sequel, but it was nicely done. It had a definite ending-it just said something like "Other things happened, but that's another story..." There were some plotlines open, but the main story was pretty much wrapped up. That's good. In the real world, you solve problems, but there are always more problems. Nothing ever completely ends. Movies sometimes do that too-I remember one of the Conan movies ending that way. I don't know if I'll like the way Starcraft 2 seems to be coming, though. They present the first Starcraft 2 as the first 1/3 of the story.

Borderlands (1)

gregor-e (136142) | more than 4 years ago | (#30750916)

Borderlands has the most unsatisfying ending of any game I've played to the end. And the weird thing is, they roll the credits, which goes on and on, and if you wait for them to finish, you're dropped back in-game with one small task to complete.

Although the ending leaves a possible sequel, it seems a whole lot more like a 'whoops - ran out of money' ending.

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