176: To Do: Finish Any Game

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Well, finishing the game has become less important over the years mainly because of the emphasis on multiplayer over single player. I would say that the trend in gameplaying is not so much for the single player storyline anymore (though obviously there are exceptions to the rule like Fallout, Oblivion, Fable, etc.) as for the multiplayer. Even the term "single player" sounds restrictive and insocial in a medium where social interaction between fellow players is strongly encouraged. Granted, I'm in college in the U.S., so I'm not 100% sure how it pans out for the most part outside of the U.S., but I've seen a huge shift among friends, dorm mates, and people online towards multiplayer games, and reserving single player games for rents or just passing them over altogether. I myself passed over Fallout 3, as awesome as it looked, because it was a single player game. I passed it over for Gears of War 2 and Left 4 Dead so that me and my roommate would be able to play together. For me, the social aspect is the most attractive factor in games anymore, especially now that my high school friends rely more on online games to stay in touch.

I roughly estimated that I had beaten over 70% of the games I owned at the beginning of fall semester.

I think that most people here are talking about console games, Xbox / Playstation which probably explains most opinions stated, but I'll give it a go anyway.

Movie-games are usually abhorrent to me. Let's be honest here, the types of games leaning toward movies are not films of Oscar caliber, they are summer popcorn movies without much substance. It seems that most console games are becoming interactive movies more than exercises of the intellect. The love affair with the "cinematic moment" has robbed so much from the art form. Do you run down the corridor now before the bad guys show up? Do you wait for the bad guys to show up and ambush them? It doesn't matter since the game is scripted so heavily that they always show up as you trip an invisible trigger.

Scripting, pacing, tightening--forever tightening. We aren't gamers, we are mice running in the developer's maze scientifically designed to leap out and scare us here or narrowly miss us there. When you see the strings the puppet show gets a whole lot less entertaining. The entire experience is so over-engineered; oh this should happen now, that med pack needs to be there, this lightening flash needs to show the side alley, that there's no room left for gamers to be gamers.

Game designers rarely have the concept of subtlety, of believing in the player to pick up or piece together the story, atmosphere, puzzle on their own. Everything is over the top, cliche, exaggerated, highlighted, and so on. The interactions with the GlaDOS computer in Portal are a counter example where subtlety is used to great effect.

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My favorite games are always those that teach me something. This is how you start a jet liner. This is how you defend a castle with a medieval army. If I'm not learning, I'm not caring.

Also the concept of the detailed single player and the bare bones multiplayer modes is so tiresome. Why can't we have the full, slow multiplayer experience? Does everything online need to be go, go, go, fast, fast, fast streamlined? What happened to coop, the most social and immersive of all the game modes?

Back in 1989 my New Year's resolution was to finish no less than 20 NES games (I was eleven when I made that "resolution"; cut me some slack.) I then spent the rest of the year on a quest, renting any game with an ending that wasn't too Nintendo Hard and easily accomplished the goal.

Twenty years later there's no way I could repeat a feat like that with modern games, because (a) you can't rent PC games and I'd be out the better part of a grand for purchases, (b) unlike in 1989 there's a much bigger gulf between quality and crap; games these days are either rock-solid or Dangerously Wallowing in Suck, and (c) the rise of the sandbox genre means that the really good games out there are designed to be the sort of "if you only play one game this year, make it this one" sandboxes that more or less demand the player achieve Hundred Percent Completion.

The good old "a winner is you" days are gone and it's a sign of gaming's evolution.

Yeah I played Mass Effect twice because I loved the story and wanted to play it out slightly differently. If the story is engaging and the gameplay is decent (read not overly frustrating) enough I will play to the end.

I do agree that there are too many titles being released each year and often at the same time of year too.

Hiroshi Mishima:
I'd like to comment on something that this article brought to mind: The notion that story-driven games are a chore to play while games that do nothing but challenge our skills with little reward save for gloating about "beating Megaman 9 without taking a single hit" are all the rage....

When I was younger I used to play games for the story and the whole experience you find in games like final fantasy, the Legend of Zelda etc.
The problem is, I got older, my taste expanded and, I guess, matured. But game stories didn't. They're still stuck in the same formulaic, predictable, generic stories that they were when i first loved them. Except now I know better.
I haven't seen a single video game live up to the quality of a good book or film.
Even extremely simple, grade-school level books (Of Mice and Men etc) go far beyond what games ever have.

I'd love to be able to enjoy a game for it's story, but in lieu of that I'll play the occasional game for the fast paced action element instead. If I have an itch for something with a good narrative there's plenty of books and movies for me to watch, why should I settle with banality simply because it's in a different medium?

I'll finish games when developers assure me I'll stop being disappointed by...

...pointless escalations of story or difficulty (Farenheit/Indigo Prophecy, Bioshock, Neverwinter Nights, Assassins Creed, Icewind Dale 2)

...complete shifts in learned gameplay mechanics (Bioshock, Assassin's Creed, Warhammer: Mark Of Chaos and every other strategy game ever, Half Life)

...god awful end bosses (Bioshock, Assassin's Creed, Conan, Half Life).

I completed pretty much all of the above games - or at least got to their last level - and wished I hadn't, because the high point was about two-thirds of the way through and the game seemed like so much more of a disappointment.

You see Gamers have become more "Instant Satisfaction" oriented.

We want to kill that big thing instantly or have that power.. However this is a stereotype. WOW and other MMO's wouldn't be here if all Gamers had no patience.

I do think that Dev's should include a "Short mode" with Fast,paced Balls to the wall fun along with a "Quest mode" or something similar with a Full story and character Development. Kinda like Half Life 2 and Painkiller in one game.

Right now, I'm sitting on a PS3 save file for the last level of Bionic Commando re-armed. I'm so hesitant to load it up just because I know I would have to get reacclimated to the controls in order to effectively beat the level.

Maybe the ideal direction is a game where the dynamics of gameplay are more about the infinite potential of its game dynamics or online play while a short 2-5 hour story mode serves more as an entertaining tutorial of sorts? You mentioned Street Fighter 2, which would seem to be a fitting model.

Walked out of pineapple express? what the hell is wrong with him, that movie is awesome.

Back in the day the only people I knew who didn't finish games were people who worked in the industry and had access to a huge amount of games that they'd received for free. Now that everyone is in the same position - rightly or wrongly - it's inevitable that more and more games are left unfinished. With free and easy access to what, 10,000s of 'free' games I know that if I buy a game I damn well finish it. But most games I play I'm pretty much treating as demos, if they don't convince me in the first 2 or 3 hours that they are worth finishing then I'm just not going to bother.

The amount of games in my collection that I've completed versus the ones I haven't is in a ratio of close to one to one, as far as I can remember. I finish far more FPS titles than I do any other genre, probably because I've grown accustomed to the interfaces, and the difficulty suits me fine. On the other hand, I'm not known for completing platformers, probably because I eventually get frustrated by the way that these games play. Unlike in the first-person shooter, I don't have that connection to the character and how they interact.

There appears to be a boundary for me when it comes to the amount of interaction I feel with a character and my propensity to complete a game. First-person games, which obviously feel much like you are controlling a character's every movement, are ones that I excel at. At the same time, I enjoy third-person RPGs and strategy games, where individual characters are controlled by the click of a mouse or the selection of a menu option. The middle ground, with third-person perspective platforming and action-adventure games, has never been an area where I have been able to excel, so while I've completed a large number of the top-rated first-person shooter titles, and a decent number of third-person RPGs and a few strategy games, I've rarely completed a Zelda title, or a Mario title, simply because there seems to be a valley into which these games fall for me.

For me, not finishing a game has nothing to do with game "length" but rather with obstacles that prevent me from making further progress. I have seen plenty of sub-par movies and TV shows where I found myself wondering how much longer the thing was going to drag on. However, I've never thought to myself that a game was too long or too short. I've played a few games where the frequency of check points seemed a bit too far apart (just give us games where we can save any time we want to! I hate check points!), but the game as a whole didn't seem too long.

I rarely see the end of a game because I simply can't figure out how to beat it. It seems like there comes a point where my hand-eye coordination just isn't fast enough to beat the next boss in some games. In others, I can't figure out how to beat some puzzle that is blocking progress or can't find the secret passage that lets me keep going. In the case of confusing game map layouts and puzzles, I can at least find a walkthrough on the internet to help me, so I don't mind those challenges so much. It's when my progress grinds to a halt because I'm just not fast enough or can't time my jumps/attacks/blocks etc. just right to get past a certain point that drive me nuts.

Take Baldur's Gate Dark Alliance for example. I played that game for weeks (off and on along with other games) and made lots of progress. There were times when I ran into a situation that killed me, but I eventually figured out how to get past it. That was satisfying and I enjoyed the achievement of beating those bosses. Then disaster struck when I got to the point where the floor falls out from under you. Literaly. I never did figure out the right combo of stones to step on to get past it. Besides that, I wasn't fast enough to get off a stone before it fell while trying to guess which stone to step on next at the same time. I got pretty tired of trying to figure that out and wound up trading the game in unfinished.

I think more games need better cheat codes like level skip, flying (to get past jumps that are too hard), god mode, no clip etc. so that people like me who aren't expert gamers and who don't have time to sink into perfecting the moves of each game can still see the end of the story. Game publishers need to remember that not every person who buys their games has nearly unlimited free time to devote just to gaming. Some of us gamers have other hobbies, jobs and an actual family life that takes up our time too. I was really glad to find out that not every new game coming out these days lacks actually useful cheat codes. For example, I found cheats on gamefaqs.com for Fallout 3 which have made making progress in that game much easier.

Another thing that keeps me and a lot of people I know from completing games is the times of the year when lots of new games come out. It's pretty hard to resist the temptation to go out and buy the latest highly rated game instead of continuing to grind away on the games you already have.

easier said than done...

some games were soo bad i don't finish them others well when great games are released there are usually two or more and you get backed up and forget to finish them

I didn't finish reading the article.

I don't really feel guilty about not finishing a game. I don't even think about it honestly. I just load up whatever I feel like playing and play it. Sometimes a game's story, or gameplay, makes me want to play it enough that I end up finishing it.

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