Friday, September 2, 2011

Finishing up strong

I hate days where I have to go out for things like appointments. Like any some sort of misanthrope-hikikomori thing I get less and less able to be comfortable outside for long periods of time. I spent all of yesterday bouncing around waiting till the end of the day, getting nearly nothing done physically. I try and work on this by going out daily for short times but it only seems to get worse faster then it gets better.

It does give me time to think though, and it gives me lots of time to think though, and with both my friends and myself finishing up long running tabletop games and video games, this has been on my mind for the last few weeks, and is a common area of screwing up in games of all kinds.I find it a very common theme that the end of a game things just... fall apart. As the deadline looms, patience wanes, the budget shrinks, the audience locks in on things you don't want them to know, or get too annoying or any combinations of these will cause a game will lose quality rapidly. Actually this often applies to movies, TV shows and other things. You need to rush things and dump information. Remind people of things they should know. Challenge them. Its a mess and its easy to make mistakes. Or forget to bug test. I'm looking at you Obsidian Entertainment.

Unfortunately, its also the worst place to make mistakes. Its what people will remember you best for. The last things that happened and how it all comes to a close, not the humble beginnings no matter how glorious they were at the time, nor dramatic scenes in the middle. It's simply how we're wired. To that end as a person on the internet I offer my uneducated advice to all creators of things out there:
1: Design the ending first:
Creativity is at it's strongest at the beginning and you want to finish in a memorable way that'll impress people. Dump as much of that effort, spirit and enthusiasm into this. It doesn't need to be exact, that would be madness due to the sake of it being impossible to predict exactly what you'll have to work with, but a rough idea, the hows or whats of your plot. If you want things to end with them summoning a evil god, or coming face to face with a long out of their reach enemy. Get an idea as developed as possible with a bit wiggleroom about how exactly they end up here. For those examples, it may need to be other people summon said evil god or that this long time enemy personally comes after them. roughly the same.

2: Use the middle to bridge to the end:
A critical step to the end is to transition to it. A lot of things have a sudden shift in tone, or dramatically change the rules of how things work. This often ends up jarring. It can work, but you need to decide on how you want this. This largely depends on your format, games either take away or grant gimmicks, super weapons in first person shooters, or old tricks no longer work like nothing can be grappled onto. Worst cases completely change the style of game play. Tabletop games, they tend to wind up resourceless or without friends. There's moments where this is not just appropriate but massively improves the mood.  You'll need to judge what you're going for and how you feel people will react to the changes, but remember: Build into it. Incline everything they do to get closer to your finale.

3: Bug test it to fuck:
End games are made of the hardest enemies, the most controversial scenes and the like. Test every goddamn thing you can about it. Run copies of your players alone against monsters a couple times in secret to make sure how things go. Make sure it gets QA from your testing staff. Minimize bugs like you would on any other scene. Even if you don't follow the above rules, and the deadline's hurrying up, this is one that's critical. Above all. Obsidian Entertainment are probably my favorite company but break this rule so damn much and they're a grand example to anyone that's played their games, a buggy or extremely unforgiving end can completely ruin the experience.

There are more, but these are the big three I find to be so common in things. I'm curious though, what kinds of common problems or advice can you think of for the ends of things to improve their quality?


  1. Well, one endgame that I think is pretty mediocre is the one in Final Fantasy IX. It just feels so inconsistent with everything that happened before. So yeah, consistency is pretty important in my book.

  2. I actually do have the ending planed out its' the getting there that is taking a bit too much.

  3. I think a lot of endgames suck, I can only count on one, maybe two hands, the number of good endings I've seen.

  4. Oh god, Obsidian
    I think they hire toddlers for their bug testing