I know gamers should not be entitled. They should not expect developers to keep giving more and more content for a game, especially not for free. But I do think that developers should have respect for the people who buy the games. Almost every story driven game that I have ever played has a terrible and often rushed ending. Bioshock, Fallout 3, No More Heroes 2, just to name a few all suffer from this. These three game are incredible; some of the best uses of the medium they are a part of today, but they cannot get one of the most important parts of a story correct. Now the conclusion does not have to explain exactly what happened; a good cliff hanger is fine. A developer does not have to show what every character is up to after the game is complete: it just has to be smart. Here are some simple solutions on how to make endings better in games. They are not going to be mind blowing or life changing. These are just a few things that could prevent that bad taste in your mouth that makes you resent games.
First, think about the ending second. The most important part of a game is the introduction. It needs to be solid to make a good impression on the player. If the games is captivating and pulls them in, they will play it for a bit, possibly even complete it. Thinking of your ending second is not about sales, it is about respecting the medium. Many statistics show that most players do not complete most of the games they play or purchase. Anyone who wants storytelling in gaming to rival movies and novels (dare I say it), needs to know that the best of the best have great endings. The ending should have something to do with the actual content of the game. When you see a 2 minute cut scene or slide show at the end of a game you feel empty. You feel as if the developer themselves did not even care.
Second, you do not need a final boss. I do not even know what else to say about this. Books do not have final bosses; movies do not have final bosses.
Third, do not forget about your characters. There is nothing more annoying then showing an important character for two-thirds of a game and then just never mentioning them again. Sure maybe you are saving them for the sequel, but when you do not talk about them for such a long time it seems the developers and writers did not know what to do with them. It is almost as if they did not need to be in the story at all. Getting attached to a character that is introduced, appears important and is just forgotten about for several hours and never heard from again confuses gamers.
Finally, make it interactive. Games are an interactive medium so make gamers feel like they had to true effect on the story. The smallest interaction, like being able to look around or moving during the falling action and ending, can change the emotions of the scene. The player has been experiencing the whole story up to the end; let them experience the conclusion as well.
The ending is the last thing a player remembers in a game. If it is unfulfilling, they will remember. Make that moment show why games are an interesting new medium that can tell interactive stories like no other.
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