Thoughts on when a game should end?

Chronicler

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349
https://www.reddit.com/r/patientgamers/comments/12xxoym
This post on reddit got me thinking about the subject. This player basically played until they stopped having fun, then continued playing until they beat the game. Quote "I had a great time in the first half, but had to force myself to finish it." Now they say the game "Overstays its welcome".

In my opinion that's a strength of a game. The ideal game should end when you're done playing, not when they run out of game for you to play. But there are people up and down the thread saying it's a total cop out to expect players to practice that kind of emotional regulation.

I don't know. What do you think? I don't think it's necessarily invalid for a game to leave you wanting more, but a game that lets you get your fill is clearly the superior option, right?

The ideal ballance I think was struck with this Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles game I played on the DS. It was a relatively short game, but it had a New Game+ that let you essentially pick up right where you left off, and then another New Game+ after that. So it was a relatively minor investment to get the whole story, but there would still be hours and hours of fun after that. I think I personally played it about two and a half times before I decided I was done. But that's probably easier said than done.
 

BelgarathMTH

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97
I almost never finish any game. I like games that feel completely open-ended, or at least so big that I can get my fill without ever reaching the actual end.

That includes Baldur's Gate. I haven't fought Melissan in ToB for more than a decade now, yet I've started new characters in BG1 countless times.

As I've grown older, I've gravitated more and more to MMO's, because they contain stories with beginnings and endings, but there's always something new coming out, and the game world never ends, unless the company shuts down. So I have spent an enormous number of hours exploring and leveling in World of Warcraft, Elder Scrolls Online, Final Fantasy XIV, and my latest game I've been playing, Star Wars The Old Republic.

I also enjoy ARPG looting games like Diablo, Titan Quest, Torchlight, and Sacred. In most of those games, there is what I call a "roller coaster ride" track through several acts, and then the game has an "ending", but if you reach the end of the "ride", you can just get back on for another ride at a higher difficulty level. I almost never get to the highest "ultimate" difficulty in an ARPG; I always get my fill and move on to the next game, usually somewhere in the middle of the second and rarely part way into the third difficulty go-round.

There are a *lot* of games out that meet my tastes for the never-ending, always restarting playstyle. So many that I feel there aren't enough hours left in my life to play all the characters I want to start and play, and all the game worlds I want to explore. That's a good feeling, and a good thing.
 

Chronicler

Habitué
Messages
349
I almost never finish any game. I like games that feel completely open-ended, or at least so big that I can get my fill without ever reaching the actual end.

That includes Baldur's Gate. I haven't fought Melissan in ToB for more than a decade now, yet I've started new characters in BG1 countless times.

As I've grown older, I've gravitated more and more to MMO's, because they contain stories with beginnings and endings, but there's always something new coming out, and the game world never ends, unless the company shuts down. So I have spent an enormous number of hours exploring and leveling in World of Warcraft, Elder Scrolls Online, Final Fantasy XIV, and my latest game I've been playing, Star Wars The Old Republic.

I also enjoy ARPG looting games like Diablo, Titan Quest, Torchlight, and Sacred. In most of those games, there is what I call a "roller coaster ride" track through several acts, and then the game has an "ending", but if you reach the end of the "ride", you can just get back on for another ride at a higher difficulty level. I almost never get to the highest "ultimate" difficulty in an ARPG; I always get my fill and move on to the next game, usually somewhere in the middle of the second and rarely part way into the third difficulty go-round.

There are a *lot* of games out that meet my tastes for the never-ending, always restarting playstyle. So many that I feel there aren't enough hours left in my life to play all the characters I want to start and play, and all the game worlds I want to explore. That's a good feeling, and a good thing.
Yeah, that's kind of my arc too.

I've started countless BG1 characters. I've beaten BG1 maybe seven or eight times? I've never played past the first chapter or two of BG2 to this day.

These days I do spend most of my time on those sorts of "Infinite Content" games. Where the game never ends, and you've have to play pretty excessively to "catch up", to the point that you've got nothing to do while you wait for them to patch in a new quest or something.

I've been getting back into Fate Grand Order lately but my frustration is that the energy mechanic doesn't really allow you to just play on your own schedule. Everything you do costs energy, you get 1 energy point every 5 minutes. You can use apples to refil your energy, but they don't give out enough of them for you to use them super frivolously, and if you use them all then the only way to refill is the cash currency.

I think I'm starting to realize I enjoy watching FGO streamers more than I really enjoy playing the game. I think I might continue having minimal investment in the game, just because it's more fun if you're somewhat involved in that sort of stuff, but I'm not gonna go too hard on this.
 

Antimatter

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I mean, an answer would depend heavily on the game's genre and specific features. E.g. games like Diablo 2 can't "end" unless you reach lvl 99 and gather all possible unique and set items. MMOs can't end at all due to constant new updates. Or, for example, when I play Skyrim, I'm not interested in actually "finishing" it, as is, finishing all possible quests. I can feel like doing a series of quests, or roleplaying my character, not completing the game.

But story-based games, sure, they should end at an appropriate time. One negative example is Pathfinder: Kingmaker where the last part of the game felt like a drag and was unnecessarily long.

I would say smaller games like Plague Tale: Innocence can strike a perfect balance here. Almost every hour spent in the game provides different experiences/emotions/even gameplay.

When it's not a smaller game, I would just focus on things that matter to me, personally. For example, in Assassin's Creed: Odyssey I didn't complete one of the 2 largest expansions because I felt I got everything I wanted from the game. I wanted to see how the main story goes, and I wanted to complete the first expansion because I was hooked by it. I didn't stay in the game just to finish 100% of its quests and complete all the tasks to get achievements. In Pillars of Eternity, I just focused on the main quest and didn't even start DLC content. I completed a few stories of those companions I enjoyed having in the group, and didn't try to, again, 100% the game.
 

Chronicler

Habitué
Messages
349
But story-based games, sure, they should end at an appropriate time. One negative example is Pathfinder: Kingmaker where the last part of the game felt like a drag and was unnecessarily long.
I haven't played too deep into Bravely Default, but from what I hear, the final chapter of the game introduces a Groundhog Day-esque timeloop, which becomes incredibly repetitious and tedious as you replay this final section over and over again. I don't know exactly how many times you have to go through the loop to finish the game, but that I am pretty sympathetic towards. This isn't what the game has been up to that point. You'd been going through a pretty linear adventure and then out of nowhere they go Endless Eight on you, just as you were priming yourself for the thrilling climax. Seems like a pretty odd decision.
 

Cahir

Innkeeper
Staff member
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324
I may be in the minority here, but I try to finish every game I play, *if* I like it. That usually means I either finish it or discard quickly. My main flaw in approach, which I try very hard to eradicate (so far without success) is that I try to 100% complete (or at last as close as possible), even if I start to feel weariness. I once thought the bigger game the better, but nowadays, I feel 60–80 hours game is the sweet spot for me. It's enough for me to be satisfied with the amount of content, and not long enough to start feeling tired.

An extreme recent example was Assassin's Creed: Valhalla. I spent 170 hours in this game, doing only 45% of the story (according to Ubisoft launcher). This game is simply too big. I didn't think there can be a game bigger than AC: Odyssey (which I also completed in 100%), but Valhalla topped that. It's too big for its own good.

On the other hand, there are some games that can spark my interest throughout the whole story, despite being enormously long. The perfect example was Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous, in which I spent 270 hours and loved 90% of it.

All in all I like games that have an ending, a New Game+ feature was never an incentive for me, because I always consider it as an artificial way of fuelling one's interest in game. The same with MMOs - I tried ESO, because I thought the story-based design will be enough for me to have fun with it. Turns out I was right, I was hooked for almost 300 hours, without even touching group content. But even focusing on the story, this game was simply never-ending, and while stories and quests were surprisingly well done, their construction was usually similar to each other, so with time, I began to feel a bit tired and decided I need to switch to another game. It's quite possible I'll come back to ESO at some point, but probably not in the near future.

Another flaw in my approach is that I usually try to do all side quests first and then the main quest. This lead for to not finishing Oblivion's main story... twice. I simply burned out in the middle of it, after finishing all side content. Fortunately, I managed to adjust this approach, in large part to Antimatter and Urdnot_Wrex and the great discussion I had with them about this. Nowadays, I try to maintain balance between the main story and side content. When I feel I should go back to the main story, to not lose focus, instead of keep postponing it, I listen to my gut and go back to it. It's a work in progress process, but effects are promising.
 

InGameScientist

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Messages
35
I think this is an intensely subjective/personal decision on when a game ends.

Yes, there are definite "end states", like check mates, story closures, etc.

But the reason I think this is a decision rather than a state is that it's very rare for you to "get your fill" and for the game to come to its natural/intended conclusion at the same time. I play games of chess over and over again because even after the game has "ended" I want more. On the flip side I keep playing the first half of my games of Stellaris over and over again without ever reaching the "end" because I love the exploration and set up part of my empire.

I can't 100% games, only because I have a limited amount of time and my goal with gaming for me is fun -- if 100% brings me "fun" (as it did for Death's Door) then I will do it, but otherwise, I am content to experience the story as it is revealed to me. If at that point I want to experience more of the story but in a different way, I will replay it (as I do Wildermyth and Wartales).

For me, the sweet spot is a digital TTRPG, where you have a main branch story you are following, but how you get to the conclusion of that story is up to you. Games like Wildermyth, Wartales, Starsector, and XCOM (to a certain extent) are GREAT at letting you do just that: they give you an end goal but they don't give you an ordered mission list that you have to complete. You're free to do as many side missions as you want before moving back to the main story, or you can beeline it for the end of the main story, ignoring all side quests. This puts ME in control of when a game ends and when it gives me that freedom, I tend to stick with the games longer.

I'm not sure if I explained that properly or if it was at all coherent. Going back to the original post, I think your "end point" for a game is when you stop having fun (a decision). If you finish the game before that (i.e., leaves you wanting more) my guess is, you'll replay the game. If you finish the game and are "full", you won't play it again. And if you are 50% into a game and you're not having fun, maybe it's ok to put it down :)
 

Chronicler

Habitué
Messages
349
I think this is an intensely subjective/personal decision on when a game ends.

Yes, there are definite "end states", like check mates, story closures, etc.

But the reason I think this is a decision rather than a state is that it's very rare for you to "get your fill" and for the game to come to its natural/intended conclusion at the same time. I play games of chess over and over again because even after the game has "ended" I want more. On the flip side I keep playing the first half of my games of Stellaris over and over again without ever reaching the "end" because I love the exploration and set up part of my empire.

I can't 100% games, only because I have a limited amount of time and my goal with gaming for me is fun -- if 100% brings me "fun" (as it did for Death's Door) then I will do it, but otherwise, I am content to experience the story as it is revealed to me. If at that point I want to experience more of the story but in a different way, I will replay it (as I do Wildermyth and Wartales).

For me, the sweet spot is a digital TTRPG, where you have a main branch story you are following, but how you get to the conclusion of that story is up to you. Games like Wildermyth, Wartales, Starsector, and XCOM (to a certain extent) are GREAT at letting you do just that: they give you an end goal but they don't give you an ordered mission list that you have to complete. You're free to do as many side missions as you want before moving back to the main story, or you can beeline it for the end of the main story, ignoring all side quests. This puts ME in control of when a game ends and when it gives me that freedom, I tend to stick with the games longer.

I'm not sure if I explained that properly or if it was at all coherent. Going back to the original post, I think your "end point" for a game is when you stop having fun (a decision). If you finish the game before that (i.e., leaves you wanting more) my guess is, you'll replay the game. If you finish the game and are "full", you won't play it again. And if you are 50% into a game and you're not having fun, maybe it's ok to put it down :)
Hey, I don't think I've seen you around here. Welcome to the forum!

Very insightful reply imo. I especially like the point about Chess. I think often comparing the modern medium of "Videogames" to the games that came beforehand can reveal a lot. Videogames seem so new, but to a certain extent they're continuing a much older tradition.
 

InGameScientist

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Hey, I don't think I've seen you around here. Welcome to the forum!

Very insightful reply imo. I especially like the point about Chess. I think often comparing the modern medium of "Videogames" to the games that came beforehand can reveal a lot. Videogames seem so new, but to a certain extent they're continuing a much older tradition.
Hi! I was on for a bit a couple of months ago, dropped off for work, and am back!
Thank you and nice to talk to you!
 
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