The Game Boy: Game Endings Aren't Bad – They're Just Misunderstood

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Nyarlathotep

STALKER was the last game I finished that really left me feeling disappointed.

I see this fluctuating point of light and approach it thinking to myself "OK the game has been slow up until now but it will get more exciting from here" and then it was over.

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vbsif8saf

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TheMiddleman

The heck? There was nothing wrong with Bioshock's ending, other than the boss battle was a little short.

Bioshock 2, on the other hand, was a sack of garbage.

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gamewizard

I say a good game with the forgone conclusion of eventual death is DF your fortress at some point is going to fall apart and just become another piece of the worlds history maybe if you are lucky even a legend

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drummingasm

This reminded me of American Beauty. The writers weren't afraid to have a sad ending. I finished watching the movie with a feeling of sadness and a sense of uplifting hope. For a mainstream blockbuster, the movie actually philosophizes pretty deeply (holy crap that's a real word.) I can't recommend this movie highly enough.

I want to see a game where the ending is an impossible battle. Your character has to do something like fight an army of enemies that he could actually kill, but in large numbers would overwhelm him. I want to see a game designer design the ending as a linear progression through like a street, with the goal of reaching something. It has to be something tangible that the player believes possible, (unless he reads other players' comments online) but the game gets so hard that no one could actually win. Like a "survival mode." It would only be possible in games that don't quit when you die (like Bioshock) because the player might restart before the ending if viewed. I really like the idea of a hopeless ending for the player.

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Penterax

Multiple endings come from developers having weak ideas about their story, and trying to make everyone happy; that's a terrible way to write.

Have the guts to make the ending you want; don't apologize to those unwilling to understand.

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Valor958

That's not necessarily true, actually not at all true. Track down and speak to a professional writer, for anything related to gaming. Multiple endings come about.. for multiple reasons. Calling the writers cowards essentially for not sticking to a single defining ending, is very shortsighted. Different storytelling styles require different ending approaces. The writer also can get overrided by the higher ups who feel that a game would sell or play better given a different approach. So even then, not the writer's fault. I've worked with game devs and aspire to be one, and have taken steps to that end. I'm also an amateur writer for tabletop and electronic games, as well as fan fiction. I can say whole-heartedly, sometimes, a single ending just doesn't cut it.

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Kinetic

It's funny that this article brings it up too, but up until the outrage over ME3s ending, I had no idea that people were upset over the original ending to fallout 3.
Now THAT was an amazing game. I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it, and while the ending was a little sad, I didnt see anything wrong with it.

I think a lot of devs are afraid to write endings where the bad guys win or the protagonist(s) die, but stories don't always have happy endings, and as long as it isn't some cheap stunt to stir up "controversy" and it actually adds depth to the games plot, I don't have a problem with it.

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bling581

I like variety and wouldn't mind stories where the bad guys win. You almost always expect the good guys to come out on top so it's a surprise when something new happens. I didn't mind that Shepard dies in the end of ME3, what was irritating was the confusion and the fact that you saw the same ending no matter what happened. Same explosion, same crash on a mysterious planet, and so on. There were subtle differences but it didn't take away the fact that I felt like it didn't really matter what option you picked.

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Kinetic

I agree. I got really bored with movies for a long time because it all just felt the same. The "good guy" might go through a lot but in the end they always won so it felt like nothing was ever at stake. I don't root for the bad guys or anything, but when you already know how something will end it eliminates a lot of the tension.
On the subject of mass effect 3, I also agree. There is an ending where shep "lives", or at least you see him/her breathing, but that's all irrelevant because that was never the issue. What I think a lot of people (including bioware) don't get when someone says they didn't like the ending is that they aren't talking about whether shep lived or died, but all the inconsistency (like where the hell joker was going exactly) and as you said the lack of variety that made the choice feel irrelevant.

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NavarWynn

Or do you cherish the great ones and marvel at how lucky you were to get the chance to experience them?

Of course we cherish the great ones, of course we marvel at how lucky we were to experience them. And OF COURSE whiners go on ad nauseum about the poor ones? Why? It's simple, because the ending is ALWAYS an anticlimax. The climax IS the VICTORY. And WE (not some retarded superhero) did it. WE paid for the game (more than any movie!), and WE invested dozens, or scores (or more) of hours into achieving victory (unlike the the 1.5->3hrs we invested in sitting in front of some huge screen), so even though we know it's over, we still feel like the damn developers should HONOR our hard work by giving us some ironic, cinematic, well suited, respectful, innovative, intelligent, and smart ending. Afterall, if producers are going to think about that in movies (which, as I pointed out, we invest much, much less time/money/effort in) then at least they could invesat a bit of intelligence in game endings...

I get as much gratification as anybody else out of a great ending, but really? WTF cares? When I played Quake, in 1996, at 3AM in a dark, empty house, the PLAYING was what freaked me the F--- out, peering around a corner and watching the big Baddy BREATHE was what makes that memory special... not the (long forgotten) ending.

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thematejka

This was a great article! The only thing I would add is a deeper conversation about expectations. People really loved and hated Mass Effect 3 for it's ending (and other games for that matter), and it seemed to be dependent on whether they thought they could write a better story than the game designers. I always say, If you think you can, why don't you actually make a game instead of b****ing about every other game? Sure some game endings might suck, but who do you think you are? Maybe the ending WAS good, and you failed to see the beauty of it because you wanted what only YOU wanted to see. I'm reiterating some things said in the article, but yeah, great article all around.

Kudos to the game designers who spend lots of time, effort, and stress on designing games for many others to play! I know how hard it can be and is to make a game happen.

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johnpulliam

DOOM3's ending left much to be desired. HalfLife's ending was a cliffhanger that worked; HalfLife2's cliffhangers work as well, but with Valve taking so long to come up with Episode 3, it'll either never happen (DIE VALVE DIE!!) or it'll be cobbled together and suck so badly that droves of HL2 fans will descend on Valve chanting, "DIE VALVE DIE!!"

Most FPS shooters tend to set up a boss-vs-hero battle that is fairly epic, but nothing more than that. That needs to change as well.

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johnpulliam

DOOM3's ending left much to be desired. HalfLife's ending was a cliffhanger that worked; HalfLife2's cliffhangers work as well, but with Valve taking so long to come up with Episode 3, it'll either never happen (DIE VALVE DIE!!) or it'll be cobbled together and suck so badly that droves of HL2 fans will descend on Valve chanting, "DIE VALVE DIE!!"

Most FPS shooters tend to set up a boss-vs-hero battle that is fairly epic, but nothing more than that. That needs to change as well.

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Ghok

First thought that came to mind was Mafia.

Jedi Knight had two endings, depending on the choices you made along the way (and this was back in, what, 1997?) I rather liked the "evil" one.

Valve games, of course...

I'm sure there are many others... but I finish very few games.

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aarcane

My all time favorite game ending has to be Final Fantasy 6. It pretty much wraps everything up into a nice, pretty "They all live happily ever after" bow. After the gloom, darkness, and struggle, sometimes it's nice to earn a pleasant reward. Then we have Deus EX and Deus Ex: Human Revolution. The original Deus EX ending was much the same as DX
:HR, but rather than being a tacked on ending, it was the logical conclusion the game had risen to throughout. DX:HR, however, just sorta threw you down a pit and told you to choose an ending.

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burntham77

I was thinking of the older Final Fantasy game while reading this article. FF6 and FF4 both have solid, satisfying and fairly lengthy endings.

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vrmlbasic

Out of the choices, there was really only one real choice. One of the choices wasn't even logical.

I still enjoyed it, even if the whole setup for it made little sense and the motivations of the main "villain" were rather trite.

Deus Ex's popularity puzzles me: people buy it in droves, the whole franchise is ultimately about government conspiracies, and yet it would seem that most of the people who buy it don't believe that any alleged modern government conspiracy could possibly happen.

Maybe it's because the conspiracies in Deus Ex are "cooler" than what are alleged to be actually occurring today? Maybe??

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The Corrupted One

Why do people hate on the Deus Ex Human Revolution endings.
The after credits Easter egg nearly made me cry.
*Spoilers*

The Half Life 2 Episode 3 ending is very sad for two reasons: 1. There is lots of foreshadowing of a lot of trouble coming in the next installment, bu then trouble comes immediately and sucks Eli Vance's spinal fluids out through his neck while Alyx screams. 2. You realize the next installment isn't out yet.

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Kinetic

I really liked Deus Ex HR, but I still would have preferred a different path to the endings other than "Hello Mr. Jensen, please select the ending you wish to receive."
I mean, Silent Hill two and three both had a few different endings that depended on my actions and didn't require me having to manually select the outcome I liked the most. That sort of cheapened it for me. Still a very good game though.

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The Corrupted One

I am playing the original Deus Ex right now, and half way through the game i'm starting to realize that this thing has a huge number of branching story arcs.

I'm going to put an estimate at 12 major forks in the path.

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Strangelove_424

The last screenshot from that Minecraft blog (with the point of view from his death bed) made me want to cry. That's heavy, man.

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MastaGuy

Just to provide some insight, there are definitely games out there with both good endings and good gameplay. Portal 2 is a great example. The turret song makes your heartache, and then your SPOILER ALERT (thrust into the real world). It also had that nice little ending to it, and I won't ruin that in case you read past the spoiler.

I also really liked the minecraft bit, because games like that never end, and the experience is always different. I don't want to quit it because it's such an amazing game, and I probably will be really sad the day Notch and Jeb discontinue it.

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TommM

I'm one of those that has to finish each and every game I start. Now I may be juggling 3-4 games at a time, and may put one down for a couple of months and pick it back up later, but I always complete my games.

So a good ending makes all the difference in the world to me. It's like the ending of a good book, only you get to be a participant. Don't know how many times I've told friends to play "x" game because the ending was so powerful, or on the other hand, told them to stay away from "y" game because the ending just blows even though the gameplay itself was engaging. I like the "wow" factor of a last minute blindside, or an epic final battle. So it's really disappointing when you run into a Deux Ex (as andrewc513 mentioned) where the ending was just slapped on as an after thought.

Also, I'd rather see dev's concentrate on one quality ending, than ten half-baked alternative endings.

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Khoiboi

I would disagree with some of what the other commenters said, specifically iheartpcs' "But games, like good movies, can never have a 'good' ending." I don't expect the ending to be as captivating as the game itself, but I do want some kind of closure that says "Hey, this is what happened to the protagonist as a result of his decisions throughout this adventure". I don't need to have choices in my gameplay (such as the decision making capabilities of ME1), but it is a nice add-on. When I had to choose between Kaiden and Ashley in ME1, it was really a hard decision because I didn't see them as potential lovers or anything like that, but squadmates and friends that Shepard had lived with for a majority of ME1.

I have played plenty of JRPGs though where decision-making capabilities are limited or non-existent such as Tales of Vesperia, which I recently finished. The ending for tha game was perfect. You found out what happened to the world as a result of their actions and you can get a sense of closure for the characters. It closed the overall storyline while leaving little opened-endings for individual characters for the player to interprete to their own free will, which really doesn't affect the storyline. I don't need games to be like teenage movies from the 1990's with a whole credit role while still-frame pictures of the various characters are shown along with caption to explain explicitly what happened to each of them after the main storyline. Deus Ex: Human Revolution's ending was bad to me because it literally didn't answer a lot of questions such as [spoiler alert] what happened to Megan? The protagonist's origins other than what the senile old lady told us? What happens to the world? Was it really the illuminati or was that some kind of ruse that the protagonist was told to cover-up the overall plot? The ending kind of forced us to choose to follow paths in which we were told were diabolical from the beginning of the game, but they tried to wrap it into a nice picture, saying that "it is good for the overall human race". Want to see a good game ending? I would say a majority of the Final Fantasy series have had pretty amazing endings, out of which I would like to say that Final Fantasy Tactics takes the cake. There's also Legend of Dragoon, Xenogears, Zelda, and some other pretty darn good classics from back in the day when video games weren't about graphics and frame rates.

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Valor958

I almost completely forgot about Legend of Dragoon! That was a GREAT game imho. The ending was very satisfying and several parts of the game were challenging to the point of testing whether you'd paid attention to how to actually play the game or not. I don't remember which bosses, but it was a twin boss fight that was annoying as all hell when I first played it, but I was younger and impatient. I played again a few years ago and it was still challenging, but I'd learned and beat it. Great game! Tactics was Awesome too! I can still replay Tactics, even though I remember it all. Delita is cool and so is Gafgarion... the whole game really. PLUS being able to get Cloud ^_^ Fanboi service done right. Thanks for the memories man, I'd almost forgotten.

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andrewc513

Some aren't misunderstood, but just clearly... bad. Sometimes it's as clear as that. Look at Deus Ex Human Revolution, it was a beautifully crafted game with an enthralling story and a lot of emotional investment. Then the ending is just felt so tacked on. It was like listening to an hour long symphony orchestra, only to have the finale performed by a 5 year old on a cereal box flute.

Mafia II: The entire game is about your adventures in crime with Joe. The ending yanks you away from him in what seems to be the lead-in to an epic conclusion. But no, it just stops abruptly. There's no room for philosophical analysis, the game just cuts you off.

It's clearly not hard to make a great ending, even multiple times, if the game creators care about what players have invested in the game emotionally. Look at Gears of War. First game, the ending is not only satisfying and complete, but it gives you just enough of a taste of events to come next to get you excited all over again. It gets you rearing and ready to go for another round. GoW2 did the same. When it all finally ended in GoW3, it was immensely satisfying. It's almost as if you've personally walked into battle with all these characters, and the ending treats you as such. Uncharted is pretty much the exact same way.

Sometimes, it's not even the story. It's the challenge. Never, never in my gaming life have I ever felt so proud of myself as when I beat Super Meat Boy. It was a genuinely difficult game with an insane finale, and you really feel like you've done something when you can finally beat it. That's a greater feeling than any story-driven game could ever give me.

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tony2tonez

Like one said, FF7 was great would be a good fit to this topic. It left it open to interpretation. Also God of War 3 fell into this category. I thought the ending was great, as most fanboi's were pist about it. I thought it took a bit more understanding to understand the ending. I think God of War 3 ended the series on a great note.

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Valor958

I have video game ADD too, and being a completionist on top of it... I tend to struggle to finish some games. When I DO finish a game, when I got better at the past decade through sheer willpower... I completed it so completely, that it has almost zero replayability. I STILL can't play FF7 since I've got the entire game practically memorized, and once I pick up the game.. it all floods back. Even Skyrim, I can't play it again with all the mods and everything since I know what's coming.
As an aspiring game dev and having worked with several, being a dev on ANY part of the path, is a hard as fack job. I'm usually only dissappointed in an ending, simply because that means the game is over. Real life is such a bummer sometimes... except my wife, I'm obliged to express how much I love her... (help me...)

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iheartpcs

I have played 100's of games and I hate to admit that I have not finished 95% of them (ADD).

I did finish Portal 2 and thought it was a great ending!

But games, like good movies, can never have a "good" ending. We enjoy the journey so much that the fact that it's ending is a negative to start with.

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