Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Issue of Endings

I didn't really want to get into discussing the ending of Mass Effect 3. Honestly, the reason behind it was due to my inability to express my feelings on the matter. I loved Mass Effect 3 and it was an excellent game up until the ending. Honestly, I sat down and thought for a while. Do I dislike the ending? Was the ending bad? Did it seem bad because the rest of the game was so awesome? I had a lot of thoughts jumbling through my head and it was very confusing. One thing I knew for certain about the ending though. I was disappointed. 

However, it seems "endings are becoming a hot topic as of late. Why? Well, we sort of have 3 cases, in 3 months, where endings have become somewhat... arguable. What constitutes as an ending in a video game? Do players have the right to complain about it? Should developers change endings? And so on and so forth. The 3 games I'm specifically talking about are Mass Effect 3, Final Fantasy XIII-2, and Asura's Wrath. 

Before I make any cases or bring up any questions, I would like for everyone to consider the idea of an ending. I find ending to be a conclusion to something. Endings are obviously associated with stories. If there is a beginning of a story, then there is an ending that will come, eventually. What constitutes an ending? I think it's a conclusion that the author original envisions or intended for said medium. Medium being games, books, or movies. If it is not that then I would say that it's not an ending. I understand that in game development a lot of things change. This means that the story can undergo many changes. 

Now I would like to address the people that complained about the ending of Mass Effect 3. Those that want the ending changed have shown no respect to Bioware at all. I say this firmly because if the company has produced a story, you should respect it. By players demanding it to be changed, they are in turn desecrating the work of art, the vision, and creative talent of Bioware. What can be more disrespectful than going up to a painting and saying, "This sucks. I want it changed!" I would be offended if this was said to me about any of my work. I won't get into the nitty gritty details about entitlement, art, or the controversy about the ending anymore. I will say that the ending of Mass Effect 3 was fairly conclusive.

Moving on, Final Fantasy XIII-2. This was another game that disappointed me with the ending. In fact, it was because the game didn't really have an ending. It was just a "to be continued." Now I know that cliffhangers in games are a sign of "to be continued" but Square-Enix had the guts to write it out. Man... Now I mentioned earlier that a conclusion is what the designer originally intended/envisioned. If that "to be continued" was a part of it then I respect that. However, I really felt that the game's story wasn't conclusive at all. Heck, I feel like not even the main plot art was wrapped up. Instead if felt like things were just getting started. Come on! Should games have a conclusive-like ending? No. However, I feel like if you do give players an ending like XIII-2, they'll be highly unresponsive and perhaps even be extremely upset. 

I can go on and on about XIII-2's ending but perhaps I'll save that for another time. I want to get into this advertisement that Capcom released a while back for Asura's Wrath. It's a DLC advertisement that said "true conclusion to Asura's Wrath." What? Now I haven't played Asura's Wrath for myself, but from what I've heard, the ending to the game is fairly conclusive. In fact it was a good ending and everything was wrapped up from what I hear. Then what the heck does this true conclusion mean? If the original game had a true ending... wait... I'm so confused....

Does this mean that the ending to the original shipped product wasn't the actual ending but made to feel like an ending; and the original ending was actually cut to be shipped as DLC? Wow. I'm just making an assumption here but if this is actually the mindset behind this game, then I can't possibly begin to describe my disgust and anger. 

Take for example a book. Let's say that you bought Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. The book ended right when Harry defeats Voldemort. That's a fairly conclusive ending. Sure it doesn't wrap everything up but the conflict is resolved and that's it. Imagine the outrage if J.K. Rowling said a month later, "Surprise! The true ending with what happens after Voldemort's defeat comes out in a week! This is the true conclusion!" I'm pretty sure you would be fairly upset. In fact I have a friend who's a big fan of Harry Potter and I wouldn't be surprised if he went up to Rowling and slapped her in the face. Regardless, this is a poor way to treat your customers.

So, what am I trying to get at with all these supposed issues of endings? Well... I want to say two things. The more outcry, the more complaints, and the more ridiculous things we hear from people the better. Sort of. It's good because it means people care about video games. Sure there's the obvious bad but I'm trying to be optimistic for once. It seems like gamers really aren't a small audience anymore. At least I don't think so. Second thing I want to point out is that the issue of endings might get worse. We're starting to see how DLC is heading down the wrong path and if we see issues of endings coinciding with DLC problems we get a bigger problem. Perhaps people can patch endings in the future if they complain enough. It almost happened with ME3. Who knows... All I can say is that the games industry is getting scarier by the day. 

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