As sports commentator Frank Buschmann always says: "In the end the duck poops." He naturally relates this wording to the fact that a game is only ever decided when it is really over. This is exactly what is important to me when it comes to computer and video games: if the end does not fit, I spoil the past ten, 20 or 50 hours of life. Nothing is more disappointing than when a game with a meaningless and loveless ending or a flat cliffhanger sends me home.
In times of service games, multiplayer focal points and season pass concepts, the great art of video game players often falls behind. Because let's be honest: What percentage of consumers actually end games? At a Lecture on gaming habits As part of the Game Developers Conference 2014, it emerged that at that time only 42 percent ended the mass effect role-playing game Mass Effect 3. Even the first season of the episode adventure The Walking Dead by Telltale Games ended only 39 percent. Nowadays the rate is likely to be much lower.
There are many reasons for prematurely canceling a game: moments of frustration, a high level of difficulty, weak level design or simply lack of time. I would be lying if my "Pile of Shame" were no bigger than the Cologne Cathedral. But the ends of video games are all the more important to me: they can either be the culmination of a great trip or it can be soft tissues for countless hours of gamepad acrobatics.
<img src = "https://www.pcgames.de/screenshots/1020x/2020/03/videospielenden02-buffed.jpg" alt = "Adventures and role-playing games like Age: Inquisition often have several ends – depending on the decisions made The authors are faced with the challenge of presenting all ends equally.
Source: Moby Games
Emotional heights …
A successful video game end is much more than just a certain event, a particularly monstrous cutscene or even a perfect cliffhanger. All of this can of course be the end of an adventure, but just as important is the path that takes the player and the protagonists to this point. It is not unusual for authors to write the end before they take care of the rest of the plot. Because it is often easier to work towards a goal.
When I think back to my personal player career, the first season of Telltales The Walking Dead comes to mind. For five episodes I struggled through the zombie apocalypse with Lee and the little clementine, made friends with characters and lost them again. Often even I decided the characters' lives and deaths. The emotional roller coaster ride should take a turn typical for The Walking Dead towards the end.
<img src = "https://www.pcgames.de/screenshots/1020x/2020/03/videospielenden03-buffed.jpg" alt = "Especially adventures and action adventures (in the picture: Detroit: Become Human) often set up The problem: It is often no longer possible to re-shoot such scenes – for example to change the last cut scenes – so the end must be clear at the beginning of the production.
Source: Moby Games
***ATTENTION, SPOILER! ***
When Lee died in the end, I struggled with tears and suffered like very few video games.
The same thing happened to me – like so many other players – at Naughty Dogs The Last of Us. The last few hours I was thrilled with Joel and Ellie and felt the inner conflict that Joel ended up fighting: should he hand over Ellie the Fireflies and thus save humanity? Or should he take her to safety? Ellie was so dear to my heart that I completely neglected the "reasonable" part. Ellie should live! Together with Joel. When the old curmudgeon carried the girl out of the hospital and Ellie woke up in the car, I had more than just a lump in my throat.
<img src = "https://www.pcgames.de/screenshots/1020x/2020/03/videospielenden04-buffed.png" alt = "The Walking Dead episode adventures follow a linear script. The authors have to in the last episode set a final ending point, but also install a cliffhanger for the next season.
Source: Moby Games
These subjective examples show how powerfully well-written video games can be. The mixture of interactivity and the story that comes with it creates completely different experiences than, for example, the consumption of books or films. In its best moments – whether it's The Last of Us, Final Fantasy or Red Dead Redemption – this medium creates unique moments that we will never forget.
… and final depths
Unfortunately, the pendulum always swings in the other direction. When the grand finale ends in a mild breeze, then these are the moments when I either want to throw the controller out of the window or just soberly pull the duvet over my head. How does this form of disappointment arise? Sometimes this is due to expectations that are too high, but sometimes also because of messed up storytelling.
Too often, a video game player gets the feeling that their own actions were actually completely unimportant or led in the wrong direction. Developers of open world games in particular find it difficult to bring the over 30 and more hours of stories together to a conciliatory ending. Best example of this? Far Cry 5. The Ubisoft shooter has two ends, but both only feel like minor evils. In the end somehow everyone who I have fought for so long dies.
<img src = "https://www.pcgames.de/screenshots/1020x/2020/03/videospielenden05-buffed.png" alt = "The Last of Us tells an emotional and at the same time extremely exciting story about the friendship between Ellie and Joel: The finale brought players to tears, but was changed several times by Naughty Dog during production.
Source: Moby Games
Exactly this apparent "lack of consistency" caused a scandal when Mass Effect 3 was released. Many fans felt cheated because ultimately it made little difference which cycle we chose as Commander Shepard. The endings were too similar, left too many questions unanswered and were not the big end point that players wanted after 180 and more hours! The fan revolt later calmed developers Bioware by releasing an alternative ending. Personally, the original finale neither moved nor annoyed me. I just didn't care, although I played the previous Mass Effect parts with great enthusiasm. Perhaps it is precisely this emotional state that says everything about my relationship to this solution that Bioware originally selected.
Everything has an end …
Especially in times of the service games already mentioned, emotional ends are often overlooked in favor of the ever-rotating grinding mill. Most recently, I saw this development in Warlords of New York, the expansion to Tom Clany's The Division 2. There I hunted down Aaron Keener, one of the villains of the first part. But after I finally turned it off, there was only a "reset": The game simply re-assembles your own world and all gameplay elements reappear in a slightly different form. Actually, what I did within this game universe had no impact on the big picture. Instead, everything starts all over again, and there are tons of icons and new and old tasks on the map.
<img src = "https://www.pcgames.de/screenshots/1020x/2020/03/videospielenden08-buffed.jpg" alt = "Shadow of the Colossus stirs up a conflict over their own actions over the entire season The game then ends in a brilliant and equally emotional ending.
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Source: Moby Games
What I actually want to say: Writing and staging suitable ends is one of the most difficult disciplines in game development. For large productions that are under pressure to meet deadlines and success, creating a perfect final seems almost illusory. And yet it always succeeds.
You don't believe me Then play The Last of Us, Shadow of the Colossus or the small but charming Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons – and it's best to have some handkerchiefs ready!
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