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RPGWatch Forums » Comments » News Comments » Rock, Paper, Shotgun - Guilty Secrets: Why Players Don't Finish Games

Default Rock, Paper, Shotgun - Guilty Secrets: Why Players Don't Finish Games

October 16th, 2007, 06:13
Rock,Paper Shotgun's Alec Meer delves into his personal experience after being inspired by this article by Colette Bennett on the Destructoid site (called The Endgame Syndrome: Why Do We Abandon Games? ):
As most of my Destructoid compatriots know, I await RPGs with intriguing storylines more than any other type of game. I enjoy nothing more than to sink myself into a rich plot, get to know the characters, and most of all, experience some form of emotional fulfillment at the end of the story for the work I've put into playing it. To my surprise, the last few I have looked forward to I've gotten fifty to sixty hours into and then simply never picked up again. Why this sudden transformation from game committment to total disinterest?
Alec Meer's observations are here:
Most people donít finish games, even games theyíre dead excited about. The reasons are manifold… I know at least half a dozen people who didnít make it far past That Moment in Bioshock, praising its power but in the same breath claiming boredom with the gameís admittedly repetitious structure and combat.

Iím guilty of plenty of gaming orphans myself. Iíve never quite completed a GTA game, usually because the level of driving ability required gradually becomes too harsh for me to enjoy myself. It took me 18 months of fits-and-start playing to finish Deus Ex. I made it to Chernobyl itself in STALKER, right on the cusp of answers and endgame, then found my savegame rendered useless by a patch and havenít found the time/energy to start over. Iím still dodging KOTOR 2 spoilers, because churning through the gameís fight/collect/upgrade mechanics so soon after KOTOR 1 just felt too dreary, despite my burning need to know the plotís secrets.
Worse, Iíve started Baldurís Gate II around a dozen times, but always hit a point where its end still seems impossibly far away and just give up. Then thereís the half-dozen Final Fantasies I couldnít finish because they kept interrupting me with the hideous, arrogant cutscenes that their hideous, arrogant fans believe constitute good storytelling. Itís the kind of thing Iíd love to see some graphs on, and no doubt theyíd show the faintly horrifying proof that the human animal behaves largely the same way even in experiences which feel so personal. On the other hand, itíd be reasurring to see that many people have given up in the places I did. At least it would mean it was the developerís fault, and not my own.
More information.

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October 16th, 2007, 06:13
Seriously?
I finish most everything I start, unless it's has very bad design, story or is just crap.

The last game I can remember not finishing was Stalker, the constant respawning and bugs was just too much.
When I tried to replay after a couple of patches all of a sudden when you come up out of the stairs the first time, my game's framrate drops to 1-4 fps.
When looking at the first Stalker Settlement I get 4fps if I look away I am getting 60fps, doesn't matter what resolution, how high or low the details, so it much be some new issue with ATI or they screwed up the patches.

I certainly know people that don't ever finsih games but they are more of the FPShooter crowd.
It was pretty shocking in the interview to hear an RPG player had trouble finishing Deus Ex, sure it isn't standard fare but still was a very involving story.

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October 16th, 2007, 08:15
A big problem that Ive found is losing my stride in the latter part of games that Ive put down for one reason or another. Put down a game for a few months, come back, and youve forgotten the controls, the techniques, all the minutia that made getting to this difficult part of the game possible. So jump back in 80% thru the game?? Not always that easy!

Start again? Yuck, nothing worse than that.
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October 16th, 2007, 08:42
I usually try to finish all the games I bought. There are some games I never finished due to difficulty issues (like CorpWars), some games I never finished due to technical issues (most notably Syndicate - lost my harddrive in level 48 out of 50, watched the ending of my then BF's game instead), some games I couldn't finish due to general crappiness (Fire…erm..thing, I even forgot the name of this dreadful excuse for a game), and then there are games I stopped playing due to sheer boredom… games which never pulled me in (like Dungeon Siege, Baldur's Gate, NWN, Max Payne). Not finishing a game has become more of an issue over the last few years due to severe time restrictions, but I'm still proud to announce that I generally finish at least 19 out of 20 games. If I stop playing a game, I stop pretty early, though; I'd rather cheat than see a game I enjoyed unfinished just because some boss is too difficult.
I consider myself a member of the FPShooter crowd as Ace put it, yet I usually finish my games; hubby tends to play sports games to the bitter end - all the leagues with several teams in all difficulty settings -, but he does not ever finish games of any other genre.

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October 16th, 2007, 08:42
I also have not finished STALKER yet, despite absolutely loving the atmosphere and gameplay. I'm still waiting for the final patch to start it again, it's a shame how a few bugs can break the immersion of a great game.


*Edit* Seeing this thread got me thinking about STALKER again, I hadn't checked on it's progress in a while, so I went to the developer's website.

It seems that most of the people who frequent the STALKER forum at GCS.com now believe that we've seen the last of any official patches for STALKER.
Last edited by JDR13; October 16th, 2007 at 09:05.
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October 16th, 2007, 09:38
these old games keep me coming back to them, making it hard to follow thru on new titles too. I'm thinking of reinstalling Sacrifice lately, I cant get anything done when this happens!
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October 16th, 2007, 09:47
actually, and although i don't play many, shooters and action adventures (which i play a decent amount of) are usually the ones i have the highest completion on. its their linearity that makes them far easier for me to complete even if the game itself is just kind of ehh. its the longer, more open, and less milestone based games i have a problem pacing with sometimes, and unlike somegames which aren't to hard to jump back into, games like arcanum, and fallout though quite awesome end up unfinished. every time i've restarted them i always forget how long they are and i end up trying new things which can tack on more time, but also remembering doing some of the same stuff before coupled with the lack of immersion an isometric game provides for me they end up falling to the wayside yet again. games that are broken into chapters, seperate worlds, etc are really the only type of lengthy game i can dive back into and expect to finish. stalker wasn't a problem for me to complete, though i probably killed about 1000 more enemies than necessary in the junkyard area. if clear sky isn't going to be standalone than i imagine there will be a final patch for stalker at its release. many companies do this now anyway as its good buzz timing that probably boosts sales by some amount that even if paltry is a bonus for them.
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October 16th, 2007, 10:26
I quite often stop playing games that are broken in chapters. Because there is some feeling of completion after finishing a chapter I suppose, and because sometimes the feeling of having to go and find all the quests, merchants and so on can be a turn-off.

I'm very bad at finishing games anyway. I tend to suffer from the 'grass is always greener' syndrom, either meaning I keep restarting with different classes until the sight of the beginning area makes me sick, or I get a new game/ remember an old game and move along to that, feebly promising myself I will finish the game later.
I back up all my save games, but end up restarting anyway since I can't remember what I was doing anymore.

I don't know what it is that makes me give up games so easily. With some it is the difficulty that gets progressively harder, with others it is tedious combat, and as I said before, starting a new chapter can be a break-off point as well.

Having said that, I did manage to finish 7 games this year, as compared to 0 last year, so I'm doing better
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October 16th, 2007, 11:23
Originally Posted by Sorcha Ravenlock View Post
I quite often stop playing games that are broken in chapters. Because there is some feeling of completion after finishing a chapter I suppose, and because sometimes the feeling of having to go and find all the quests, merchants and so on can be a turn-off.
Good point. I'm just to start a new chapter in BG1, namely entering Baldur's Gate, and the thought of having to talk to everyone and try to memorize who is who and who said what has put me off for a couple of days. If I lose interest, I sort of try to leave games to a point where I can go on later when I don't have anything better to play…

Repetitive combat with nothing new in sight is probably my biggest reason why I don't finish games, but usually I get back to business after a while, like now with DMMAM (although hardware requirements were the reason why I stopped playing it almost a year ago in the first place).
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October 16th, 2007, 11:31
I usually finish new games, although due to time constraints I need increasingly longer times to do so. But there are many old classics I play off and on, but haven't finished, or took years to finish. In a way, since they are already old, I feel no pressure to finish them, and at the same time like to have some eye-candy in between. It's more a filler activity, and I tend to play them in small chunks, or sometimes specifically researching certain gameplay elements.
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October 16th, 2007, 12:15
I'm a dreadful non-finisher of games. Well, OK, I guess I end up finishing most of 'em sooner or later, but "later" could be several years later. With cRPG's I often get stuck on the character creation screen as it were — I roll up one, play a bit of a way, roll up another, repeat, until it gets to the point where anything I haven't seen yet feels… wrong.
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October 16th, 2007, 13:08
Happens to me as well - usually for the same reasons that Sammy mentioned. Real life interferes and takes me away from the game. The longer I'm away, the harder it is to jump back in. Moreover, if I regularly visit sites such as RPGWatch, I often find that 90% of the time I had set aside for 'game related activities' is actually spent reading about games, or discussing games, rather than playing games. I've come to the realization that looking forward to a game is often more exciting than actually playing it.
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October 16th, 2007, 13:34
Originally Posted by xSamhainx View Post
Start again? Yuck, nothing worse than that.
Actually, it's not so bad, it's just requires a game that either has (a) fun combat, something like JA2, and/or (b) newly generated environment ŗ la NetHack each time.

Too bad they don't make many of these games any more.
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October 16th, 2007, 16:11
I must admit that I have a ton of unfinished games at home myself. I think it's rather a question of quantity paired with time constraints. When a new game hits the shelves I usually run to the next store to get it. But when I'm halfway through the next good game already hits the shelves and I pick up the latter just to leave the former unfinished. When fewer games were available (and I had less money to buy games) everything was much simpler: there was only one game like Doom installed on my PC so I had no alternatives. That's why I finished the game several times and even started to build levels for it. And that's only PC. Now add the time you need to play on the PS2 and GC… brief: playing them all would require a longer period of vacation. So I practically finish only the games that really fascinate me, like Rogue Galaxy, Valkyrie Profile 2 or Titan Quest.

There are quite a few games that I keep coming back to but that I just don't manage to finish like Baldur's Gate 2, Planescape Torment or even Neverwinter Nights 2.

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October 16th, 2007, 16:43
There seems to be a general consensus about the types of games that people may not finish but do come back to and that is one with great stories. Games that you get caught up into and want to see what happens next.

I was a bit surprised by Alec Meers unfinished games because pretty much every game he mentioned (except GTA never played it never will and Final Fantasy JRPG arn't my thing) I finished everything on his list without even thinking about giving up on it. Even Bioshock was finished quickly because first the game is too short and second the story was done well. I actually like the amnesia type games like SS2 and Dues EX.

The games I don't finish are ones like Oblivion, Morrowind, Two Worlds etc… Games that don't really capture my attention and make me care enough about the main character to want to see how this story unfolds.

I'm currently replaying Baldur's Gate 1tutu. It's my first replay of this game since I passed it so many years ago.

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October 16th, 2007, 18:23
There have been numerous games I've played through to the final battle/zone (Far Cry, Ice Wind Dale I and II, Jagged Alliance II, etc.), only to give up. I think the reason's simple: The developers change the rules and gameplay for the end-game.

Either because they run out of ideas or, more likely, in a last minute bid to drastically extend playtime and still meet the release deadline, developers often resort to cheap tactics for the end-game. These include, but are not limited to: spawning, repetition (above and beyond the rest of the game. Quite often by cutting and pasting existing areas), vastly ramping up the difficulty level (normally you'd face 10 unspeakable horrors? Now you'll have 50 coming at you at once! They'd normally take 3 hits to the head to slay, now they'll take 20! Why? Because we've run out of development time, but need to challenge the player). In short, the endgame often is different to the rest of the game, usually in a less fun way. Where we'd be happy with more of the same, the developers feel the the need to switch it up, but lack the time/ideas to do so.
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October 16th, 2007, 18:27
I hardly ever finish games. I can probably count the number of games I've finished in recent years on one hand. There was a time when I finished everything I played, but as I've gotten older with more responsibilities and less free time, I find I simply cannot invest time in a game just to get it finished.

The main reason though that I rarely finish a game is that I enjoy the build-up stage and hate the powerful end sequence results. I find that when my characters or empire or whatever become really powerful, I get dead bored. In RPGs I've always enjoyed the lower levels, in strategy games I like playing the small nations, factions, cities, whatever the theme centres around.

And that's all if it's a game I enjoy. More often than not though I just get bored with shoddy plots, lack of imagination and general rote tedium.

What Mogwin said is also very, very true, and it's happening more and more I think. In two of the games that I have finished in recent times (Bloodlines and Mafia) I had to resort to using cheats to finish simply because the developers ramped up the difficulty to extremes just in order to have a big tough fight at the end. Bloodlines was particularly bad for the developers changing the rules for the endgame. All through the game you could really develop and successfully play the character you wanted, but then you get hit with a massive fight at the end. So unless you've mastered the combat side of the game, you're screwed. It's bad, bad design.

You know the very powerful and the very stupid have one thing in common. They don't alter their views to fit the facts, they alter the facts to fit their views, which can be uncomfortable if you happen to be one of the facts that needs altering.
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October 16th, 2007, 18:38
Originally Posted by Dadoom View Post
There are quite a few games that I keep coming back to but that I just don't manage to finish like … Planescape Torment …
I urge you to go back back any rectify that one! It's one of the few examples of the developers NOT bodging the end-game with cranked up difficulty or bland areas. Although the path you must take does become more linear in the last third of the game, the story development is still exemplary.
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October 16th, 2007, 19:43
Originally Posted by mogwins View Post
I urge you to go back back any rectify that one! It's one of the few examples of the developers NOT bodging the end-game with cranked up difficulty or bland areas. Although the path you must take does become more linear in the last third of the game, the story development is still exemplary.
I concur about rectifying it — from a storytelling POV, the PS:T ending has got to be among the most satisfying and moving in any game I've ever played.

However, I beg to differ about the end-game level design: I found it visually bland and the very definition of cranked-up difficult: I could only get through by systematic save-and-reload in order to find the right order of hoops to jump through. Bad, bad, bad.

I don't remember who it was that compared PS:T to swimming laps in a cesspool with a glorious piece of interactive fiction at the end of each lap, but whoever it was, that describes my experience of the game rather well (even if it's somewhat hyperbolic).
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October 16th, 2007, 20:00
I never realized there were so many valid reasons for not finishing games.
I find I share a sentence or two from almost everyone's posts. When I began playing pc games it was with the TB strategy genre-MOO2 and HoMM-and those games, even now are so involved, long and hard( and in the case of MOO2, so prone to crashing during the large scale battles) that finishing each and every campaign is quite daunting. I have eventually beaten those games, but I think they laid down a pattern of retiring from the field in exhaustion.
I also have never finished a Bioware game. Not because I didn't enjoy them(at least quite a few parts of them), but because they just wore me out.
The games I finish are the ones that involve me both in the character(s) I'm managing, and the story and world they are affecting(all Troika's games, NWN2, Planescape, and most dungeon crawls—just because they are linear, build momentum and reward each step forward.)

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