Games and escapism — not so much escaping lately

Posted by & filed under Misc, Technology.

I have to admit, I play games to forget about my day. Heck, about regular reality at all. It’s a perfect way, really, or at least it used to be. Aside from being able to restore previously saved game state and try again (admit it, you wanted to do that with presidency — save the game, vote one of the crazier guys in, and restore it later when things predictably go horribly wrong) games, just like true Hollywood Movies, give you an idea of a great ending.

Yes, your main character might have been shot over 20 times, hanged by a thread, picked the wrong castle, but in the end the princess is yours. Maybe not from the first try, but there is a way, be it from countless tries or reading spoiler-riddled walk-through. Heck, some games can be just watched as a multi-hour long movie (Bulletstorm, for example). However, lately games seem to be headed in that whole “drama” direction by the way of screwing up their ending.

Sometimes it’s a desire to have a giant gaping hole for a sequel, sometimes it’s not. But it worries me. Whole Mass Effect 3 debacle is silly, but it hints at a simple truth — if you want drama, go and do some Oscar-worthy lightly attended independent movie. The more main characters you kill off, the bleaker the picture is at the end (a tiny note of hope that, maybe, in a few hundred generations things will be “back to normal” doesn’t count), the better odds of that small audience loving it, and you being showered with praise and awards. When you do it in the game, you’d better have a sequel locked up, or else your customers will be pissed.

Let’s see:

God of War III — unsatisfying ending (though at the end there is a small ray of hope, more of a stain of hope) along with a promise not to do another game.
Enslaved — one big WTF moment (should have guessed where this was going)
Bulletstorm — groan-inducing ending that screams Bulletstorm 2, which won’t come, like ever (not enough sales, too much complaining about bad language)
ME3 — a giant s*tstorm of epic proportions because writers went all Shakespeare on us
Castlevania: Lords of the Shadows — kind of “what?!” but they do have an excuse of another game coming out this year, so they get a pass.

What is going on? Just give people what they want, and relax, after a few years of hard work of building a great game.

Though I guess like in Hollywood even my rant has a somewhat happy ending. Bioware is thinking and waiting for the right time to address complaints. I guess the pro-drama-ending guys still pout about not being kissed in all body parts after making things “hard and dramatic”. So, keep up the good work, gamers. Complain, if you don’t like it. And hope that there will be a DLC fix after all…

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