On Endings

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rockyoumonkeys:
Only got to read the Singularity bit, but while the endings were interesting, I'm not sure I feel they were well done. What dulled their effectiveness for me was that three such wildly different conclusions come about from ONE decision made in the closing minutes of the game. It's not like Fallout or even Marvel Ultimate Alliance, where it's the choices you make throughout the game that determine the ending.

It's just strange to see "moral" endings in a game where there are no moral choices to be made until the very end. You can't really play the game as a nice guy or a jerk. All your missions are the same, and you don't get to deviate to help the old lady cross the street or drive over her. So the endings are cinematic, about some character who isn't "you"; you don't feel like you've really influenced or "deserved" the ending you got, aside from that one big decision at the end.

No doubt this wasn't the first game to do this, and I'm sure I've even played other games where this happened, but Singularity is the most recent, and the only one I can recall right now.

Does that really dull their effectiveness, though? Think about that sequence for a moment, you've got the fate of the world in your hands. Do you go with the good, and seem to save the world? Or do you give in to the evil dictator? Or does the temptation of the TMD pull you in, and do you give in to your own selfish desires?

I have to say though, the overall winner in the good ending surprised me. I did not see it coming the first time, though playing through again, it was much easier to see.

Hey, Planescape Torment had a really good ending...
Actually it had 4, but I only saw the good one.
And I should know it was good, I just finished the game an hour ago :P

But you didin't find out the Nameless One's... well, name.
Though I have this crawling sensation in the back of my skull that it was Bob. It must be.

Edit: Hey, is that an experience bubble over my head? And where the fuck did this journal come from?

theSovietConnection:

Does that really dull their effectiveness, though? Think about that sequence for a moment, you've got the fate of the world in your hands. Do you go with the good, and seem to save the world? Or do you give in to the evil dictator? Or does the temptation of the TMD pull you in, and do you give in to your own selfish desires?

Well who can really say, right? You're presented with a choice, and then boom, ALL of the consequences of that choice are laid out very quickly for you, even though it's laying out the next several years or so at least.

It's like reading a great book, but instead of having a grand conclusion, the last 100 pages are summed up for you in a paragraph or two.

Not to mention that it's a choice you probably haven't had to really think about, and you make it very quickly. (I don't recall there being a time limit, but not making the choice quickly breaks the narrative anyway). So yeah, on the one hand it's interesting to see how your choice affects the world, but not in any real storytelling sense. It'd be like reading the summary of a book on Wiki. You can appreciate the direction the story goes, find a couple interesting ideas, but as a story, it's just lacking a lot.

Mafia 2 and other games.
I hate this "DLC with the true end is coming".

Hallowed Lady:
Well, the endings in the Oddworld series were pretty good, with bad endings that were a little lacking but darkly funny and realy ones with humour and a lighter note. The Breath of Fire series nomrally had good endings and there are others. I think that many modern games seem to keep thing open ended, in case of a follow-up.

Really? Breath of Fire? The only one I've actually finished start to end was the first, and that goes down in my books as one of the worst endings I've ever experienced. After a long, difficult, epic quest, you're party finally confronts the final boss and defeats him. To paraphrase:

Defeate final boss

Character 1: "...So what do we do now?"
Character 2: "I know, let's rebuild our towns!"

Roll credits

That was seriously it.

On the good side of things, of course one of Yahtzee's other favorites Shadow of the Colussus earns top marks for a very powerful ending. Not for the amount of work put in (though they do get high marks there), but just how perfectly everything wrapped up.

For the developer effort category, top spot has to go to Lunar 2. Overall it's nothing special and more on the cheesy side, there's a regular ending that ends on kind of a sad note as the hero doesn't get the girl through forces beyond their control, etc etc. They could have just left it there, or switched things around to make it a happy ending, but instead you're given a bonafide epilogue 4-5 hours long to set things right! So you get to start out from the begining again by yourself, travel through all the towns again as the world hero, recruit your old allies, searching the world over again for some obscure legend. Like I said the ending itself wasn't the best but this huge amount of extra work really made it stand out.

This article reminds me that I need to sell my copy of Other M.

Brilliant ending to your post Yahtzee...

I would have to add that another game with a great ending is

The ending should indeed be the most important thing in a story, in videogames however financal interests often outweigh the artistic quality due to it being such an expensive endeavour apart from other mediums. Unlike movies or books however games can be successful simply beacuse of the gameplay.

Already I'm beginning to worry how Bioware's future installments will be since they were purchased by EA for example. I have yet to see an unsatisfying conclusion to the Mass Effect games, Dragon Age is probably the first game that has made me feel hopelessly let down. While the main campaign tied together most loose ends like in their previous games I had hoped for more, to be able to learn the ultimate fate of -me-, the protagonist. Awakenings was a great follow-up, however the way it ended made me rather irritated due to it simply stating that your character disappeared never to be seen again. Since that character is the avatar of myself, I would have expected to be shown an explanation for such actions. You don't have to give me different choices, just give me -closure-.

The last straw for me was Witch Hunt. It promised to give the final ending that would give closure to my character, but it turned out to be a barely three hours long campaign with an "ending" that just took away your character through the curtains going all "Nyah nyah!" on me. No answers were given, and all my anticipation having been built up until the final minutes was let down with an abrupt ending that served no purpose. It all felt like a mere trailer if you ask me.

I just... can't believe Bioware would sink so low. What were they thinking signing off with EA?!

i think actually mafia2 didn't have such a straightforward ending - i was really expecting vito to get out a gun and go save joe. and i think it wasn't just me, he was seriously eyeballing the goon's weapon in the car, and that really wasn't a "whatever" look on he's face.

I can name one time a "to be continued" type ending worked and that's Transformers War For Cybertron. Ok, that's cheating since it's a prequel story for 25+ years of character history. But still, I think that was a really good ending especially if you know the rest of the story. It was a much better done prequel than Lucas did with Star Wars.

as I'd expected singularity turned out as most games with such atmospheric trailers do, have good start and endings and the middle would require a sequel to fix. not gonna hapen it seems. but I enjoyed it more than any GoW clone or generic "TPS in cover"

I thought I'd cite an example of games with good endings, and I got half way through typing the words Prince of Persia Sands of Time and Silent Hill 2 before stopping myself. I've cited these games so much it's getting boring for me.

....

THANK YOU, thank you for finally joining the rest of us on how we (at least I) feel about you mentioning those damn games every other time like some broken record.

=)

Well, I thought the Fallout 3 main quest ending was alright in that sense; SPOILER ALERT.

Without Broken Steel: You're faced with a choice that truly defines what you think your fate, and fate of the Wasteland should be. Sacriface yourself to activate the water purifier, or let someone else do it and die in your place. Infect the purifier so it kills everyone in the Wastes, or not.

Broken Steel: the project purity choice becomes less concerning as you witness the aftermath of your choice yourself. But in the end you still make a choice that effects the fate of the Wasteland and the Brotherhood's war with the Enclave.

The Broken Steel expansion makes the end of the Project Purity quest abit lofty, but it doesn't bother me that much somehow. Either way, I still think Fallout 3 is my idea of 'best game I ever played', and I'm not only looking forward to Fallout New Vegas meeting the standards of it's predessessor, but I'm hoping to see how the Canon Lone Wanderer approached the choices to be made in Fallout 3's storyline.

I always thought that The Suffering and its sequel The Suffering: Ties That Bind had good endings. Or maybe its just because i played them both so much as to see all the endings. Nevertheless an even more recent example would be Dead Space. Even though it was obvious that it was leading up to a sequel, it still left me with a feeling of fulfillment, all the while keeping me intrigued as to what will happen next. Thats probably why i have been following Dead Space 2 like a hawk ever since it was first announced.

Ocarina of time has a deadly ending. Tear jerking indeed.

Also, Brutal Legend had a pretty amazing ending in my opinion, the twist was good and the acting superb.

Buckett:
AC2 had a shitty ending that tried to connect the time you spent as Ezio to Desmond and the future. I get that they had to somehow tie everything to Desmond, but how did that shit make any sense and left me pissed off. The game was good but the ending left me staring at the screen for an hour thinking "really, thats how you want to go out?" Seriously though, how is Desmond supposed to solve this problem. How can he and his scientist buddies restore Earths magnetic field or whatever it was? No amount of stabbing Templars in cool ways is going to fix that (unless the universe had a specific stabbing quota that Desmond must meet before it decides not to destroy the planet).

Bottom line: great game, terrible ending. How the hell are they gonna pull AC3 off?

The whole "Desmond: man of the future" crap should never have been in AC to begin with. It's the anchor around this franchise neck.

dunnace:
Ocarina of time has a deadly ending. Tear jerking indeed.

Also, Brutal Legend had a pretty amazing ending in my opinion, the twist was good and the acting superb.

Brutal Legend YAY! The story in that game is so damn perfectly constructed and brilliant. That, and it can be hilarious at times. My favourite ending is still RDR though. I've never hated a fictional character as much as I did at the end of that game.

You had to finish mafia 2 and K&2?I thought you had one of the(2-other is rockstar,one word)last fun jobs on earth.you're a dream crusher and it works

I don't think any one mentioned Portal and Braid.

Portal's was awesome cause it provided closure and still allowed for their to be a sequel.

Is it just me, or does this have a lot of spelling errors? I wonder if it's somehow on purpose? (and if he'll address this at any time)

Also, Reach anyone?

Halo Reach's campaign was a mediocre excursion (Bungie is pretty clueless about storytelling) that actually ended really well - not so much the finale, but the epilogue after the credits. There's a very sublime little secret level that I found very moving.

BloodSquirrel:

oranger:

When I said "you can't make it big..." I meant there is and will be no great game writers until something in the field changes. As it is, a potential Van Gogh level writer will simply have his "paintings" thrown out instead of being passed from gallery to gallery until they achieve acclaim,
because there is no interest in a writer becoming great. That won't line the pockets of the corporations and trends that currently control the industry.
That's objective reality.

No it isn't. Van Gogh didn't "line the pockets of the corporations" either, yet, somehow, his work got by.

Art having to work within such a system is not new. You know Shakespeare, the OMG greatest write of all time? His plays were considered popular entertainment in his day. They were written for the crowds.

Great writing in video games exists. It has managed to sell. It has even managed to sell well enough to get people to buy suplimental fiction.

But the difference between a painter and a game writer is that even if the painter never achieves popularity in their life-time, they still have completed works that can be appreciated as they are. Unless the game writer makes their own games, then any stories that are rejected will never see the light of day, since they won't have a game to be a part of, and without a game to go with it the story can't be enjoyed or appreciated in any meaningful way.

Starke:

oranger:

Atmos Duality:

Yahtzee Croshaw:

snip

(Excerpt from the article. Naturally.)

Reminds me heavily of Deus Ex's ending(s). Proof that Warren Spector actually did know what the hell he was doing.

Warren Spector didn't write them, did he? I heard he designed the game, and hadn't written it.

Based on interviews. He did, and the rest of his design team needed to drag him away from the keyboard in order to get him to scale down some of the intended set-pieces into something manageable.

That makes sense. I was always under the impression that Spector was a major proponent of the Deus Ex and Deus Ex:IW backstories, which is why he's afforded a somewhat celebrity status. Indeed, the DX:IW story was quite a broad and logical extension to that of DX, and it was mainly the claustrophobic level design that was a let down in the sequel.

Here's a relevant quote from Wikipedia:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deus_Ex_(video_game)

The initial idea of Deus Ex was originated by Warren Spector in 1994 while he worked for Origin Systems. His original conception of what would become Deus Ex was entitled Troubleshooter. After finishing development of System Shock, Spector had tired of straight fantasy and science fiction and he "got obsessed with this sort of millennial weirdness" leading to the conspiracy focused storyline for the game. He stated in April 2007 to PC Zone magazine:

I was a huge believer in the 'immersive simulation' game style, exemplified by games like Ultima Underworld, and I wanted to push the limits of that sort of game further. But I could never get the project off the ground at Origin or, later, at Looking Glass. (I think it was lack of interest at Origin/EA and it was mostly a lack of money at LG!) But then John Romero and Ion Storm came along and said, 'Make the game of your dreams. No limits.' It took me about two nanoseconds to say 'Yes!'

SirCannonFodder:

But the difference between a painter and a game writer is that even if the painter never achieves popularity in their life-time, they still have completed works that can be appreciated as they are. Unless the game writer makes their own games, then any stories that are rejected will never see the light of day, since they won't have a game to be a part of, and without a game to go with it the story can't be enjoyed or appreciated in any meaningful way.

Writers do have their stories made a part of games, many of which have been widely praised. The notion that a corporation being involved, doing some kind of vague, "the man" stuff, is going to prevent writers from getting their work out is baseless.

I completely agree that the ending should be the best part of anything.

the ending(s) concept to Singularity is rather fascinating to me, I don't know why haha

Captain Epic:

dunnace:
Ocarina of time has a deadly ending. Tear jerking indeed.

Also, Brutal Legend had a pretty amazing ending in my opinion, the twist was good and the acting superb.

Brutal Legend YAY! The story in that game is so damn perfectly constructed and brilliant. That, and it can be hilarious at times. My favourite ending is still RDR though. I've never hated a fictional character as much as I did at the end of that game.

good grief, yes to RDR

like for the ahem revenge mission... man I was glad to do that
not satisfied because a life had to be taken oddly enough... but for justice

The thing about Kane and Lynch 2 is that in addition to being a lame and unresolved ending, it's the end of a criminally short game.

Halo Reach had a pretty good ending - you have to wait until after the credits for the real ending though.

Halo 3 as well, and ditto for the after the credits thing.

What other games have good endings... hm....

The Darkness, Red Dead Redemption and Shadow of the Colossus both had quite emotional endings that left me feeling sad for the state the main character is left in.

Metal Gear Solid 3, the whole thing with The Boss, also quite emotional.

I'll add Portal to the list, but not particularly because of its ending. Just that it kept a constant level of quality from start finish. And there's the Still Alive song.

All the Final Fantasy games that I've managed to play start to finish had amazing endings as well (except for the first one). I especially like the FF6 ending.

That's all I got at the moment.

There was a study that showed that people tended to think more highly of vacations if their last day was memorable. I wouldn't be surprised if this applies to video games as well.

The Witcher had three decent endings, that were neither right or wrong, but yeah I guess Yahtzee never finished it.

seditary:

mParadox:
Bioshock had a very satisfying good ending.

Not to have a go at you or anything, but someone actually liked the ending(s) to Bioshock?

I certainly did... the good ending, anyway. I felt it completed the narrative in a compelling way that make Jack's journey actually matter from pillar to post, and it's one of the only endings in any game to evoke an honest emotional response from me. The bad ending? Well... it blew monkies. There's a reason on repeat playthroughs I rescue every Little Sister.

The kingdom hearts games showed that you can leave room for a sequel, yet still have a sense of closure.

At the end of the game, I was content with my job of killing a large portion of the heartless and stopping the immediate bad guy, yet it still left opportunity for a number 2 to come out.

XMark:
The thing about Kane and Lynch 2 is that in addition to being a lame and unresolved ending, it's the end of a criminally short game.

Halo Reach had a pretty good ending - you have to wait until after the credits for the real ending though.

Halo 3 as well, and ditto for the after the credits thing.

What other games have good endings... hm....

The Darkness, Red Dead Redemption and Shadow of the Colossus both had quite emotional endings that left me feeling sad for the state the main character is left in.

Metal Gear Solid 3, the whole thing with The Boss, also quite emotional.

I'll add Portal to the list, but not particularly because of its ending. Just that it kept a constant level of quality from start finish. And there's the Still Alive song.

All the Final Fantasy games that I've managed to play start to finish had amazing endings as well (except for the first one). I especially like the FF6 ending.

That's all I got at the moment.

FFVI just goes the extra distance with it's ending

I'm nominating both the MegaTen games and the Super Robot Wars games. Again for the sheer fact that they actually END and have pretty definitive conclusions. Even a game like Super Robot Wars Alpha which was the lead in for a 4-Parter (Gaiden, Alpha 2, Alpha 3) Still wrapped up each of it's stories in a way that felt complete, yet still left enough bad guy factions around to go "Okay well if they revisit this era we have something else"

The only Misstep in story telling was the addition of Gundam SEED to Alpha 3 because it never made any sense where the fuck they came from, especially when we had this big ass war between the Titans, Zeon, Federation and AEUG way back in Alpha 1!

And Megaten? Megaten often lets you see the end result of your actions first hand before ending, SMT2 ends with you (after having enslaved the population, sold them out to the demons, or killed both forces) wandering through towns and seeing how everyone is living now (the neutral ending is always the best in Megaten) Persona 4 ends with you killing the big bad, stepping onto the train to depart for parts unknown as your party tearfully bids you farewell.

A good ending leaves you with a feeling of completion, even if it's just "This chapter has been completed"

Deus Ex kinda works here. None of the endings are particularly palatable, but you have to pick one!

I think the Kingdom Hearts games end pretty well in each game. Solid intro (if not a little confusing) with hints at a next game but a good ending when you're following the story well.

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