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Game Endings Going Out of Style? 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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Game Endings Going Out of Style?

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  • by slim ( 1652 ) <john@hartnu p . net> on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @07:54AM (#30748984) Homepage

    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.

  • Small vs. big Ending (Score:5, Informative)

    by mseeger ( 40923 ) on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @08:07AM (#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

  • by f0rk ( 1328921 ) on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @08:31AM (#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.

  • by ijakings ( 982830 ) on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @08:44AM (#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.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @09:10AM (#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.

A committee is a group that keeps the minutes and loses hours. -- Milton Berle