I’m a bit of a computer game addict. Not a big fan of FPS though. However what recently struck me is that in many ways I actually do not want to win the game I’m playing. It might sound crazy at first, but after thinking about it, it really become apparent that it was way more enjoyable to play the game that to finish it.
Maybe it has something to do with my game preference – I love open ended, free roaming RPGs and strategies that go on forever (I always play Civilization on marathon speed…). These games do tend to focus on the game-play and immersion a lot. Then again a lot of the RPGs often tend to have some big finally at the end.
Unfortunately either the games have been getting worse and worse or my memory of the old ones is making them look better then they did. All my recent games, even when playing was a pleasure the ending turned out to be a disappointment.
A really bad case of an ending gone wrong was Two Worlds. The game itself was decent enough, and some bits of the story were building up high expectations for the finish. I was guessing maybe some time travelling with your character actually being involved in the kidnapping, basically some unusual, unexpected twist at the end. I would have even forgiven the ridiculously easy last boss if the storyline had lived up to my expectations. Unfortunately the ending was shorter than some of the cut-scenes in the middle of the game. And a bit lame too.
In a way winning these games means your adventure has ended. Some games have re-play value, some do not. Maybe it is just a character trait – I’m just as often disappointed with books and movies as I am with games. You know the feeling, when the movie is great for 95% and then the last minutes spoil the experience. When it just feels like they needed to finish it off, clean-up the scene and there wasn’t a good plan for it in the first place.
I guess good role playing games are a bit like an interactive book or movie. You get to be part of the adventure. You are not just a passive observer of an intriguing mystery or a good plot on the screen – you get a chance to immerse yourself in it, make the decisions and write the story (or at least pretend you’re writing it…). This sets the expectations for the ending very high. I would even say that the better the playability the bigger these expectations are.
When you get emotionally attached to your characters it can be hard to part with them at the end of an adventure. I wouldn’t say that you expect “happy ending” Hollywood style… It more about either giving the character’s journey a meaning or surprising you with something unexpected, but not lame at the same time.