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RPGWatch Forums » Comments » News Comments » Gamasutra - On 'Completion Anxiety Disorder'

Default Gamasutra - On 'Completion Anxiety Disorder'

March 12th, 2008, 13:49
Gamasutra has posted an article exploring some of the reasons why fewer and fewer games may be getting finished these days:
Rising retail costs mean that for most, it's damn near painful to crack the wallet open at the game store, and yet implausibly, despite the larger financial investment, it actually seems like we're finishing fewer games than we once did.

We demand more engaging, immersive and enduring game experiences — and then we don't finish them. What's wrong with us?
Some reasons given:
It's quite possible that…modern games have outgrown the available free time of the average player in all of these areas. And a core portion of the gaming audience has begun to age, meaning time is even more at a premium.
To be fair, games are now much bigger and larger than they used to be. 16-bit veterans who used to spend months at a time whittling away at a platformer in their clumsier youth can now buy it on Virtual Console and knock out a victory in a handful of hours. Nonetheless, we've demanded deeper experiences for years — those old games are generally a nostalgic snack, not a long-term project.
If is isn't time, perhaps it's frustration:
Maybe it's more persistence, better problem-solving skills we need. Are today's games too difficult for us?
…How many, of the past several games you left unfinished, were either too hard for you to finish or too easy for you to remain engaged with? If you could have had control over the difficulty level, would you have finished the game?

I'm still not convinced that dynamic difficulty wouldn't result in a few too many hollow victories for my taste — what's the point, after all, of overcoming a challenge that you've set precisely in your comfort zone? But then, that's assuming that difficulty level is the issue at all. I'd say, in fact, that today's games have gotten much easier.
Conclusion:
Now, the tricky one: Maybe it's just that a lot of these games aren't very good. You didn't finish them because you were bored. You weren't frustrated because it was too hard, but because it was too unwieldy, difficult in the wrong way, or you just hated the characters.

We talk a lot about the promise and potential of games as an engaging storytelling medium — but words like "promise" and "potential" are words we use when something could be there, but isn't there yet. Game design is trying every day to raise that bar, and what "does it" for some players won't do it for others.
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March 12th, 2008, 13:49
Is there some survey or study that says that people used to finish games at a higher rate than they are finishing them now? People keep using this as an excuse to make games shorter and shorter even though games are way easier to finish than they used to be, before the concept of the save game was invented.

I'll bet that more people finished Call of Duty 4 than any game in the 8-bit era except for maybe Super Mario Bros.
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March 12th, 2008, 14:05
Som of the games i.e on ps2 are ridiculously long over 75 hours or so to complete. Somthing like 20-30 hours is more to my liking. 40 at max. Im still playing baldurs gate saga through and i started several years ago.

Not to forget the mmogs. People put thousands of hours into those games and then complain how bored they are.
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March 12th, 2008, 14:41
75 hours is pretty long, but on the other extreme, you have modern action games like Call of Duty 4 and Portal that are over in an afternoon and get endlessly praised for it. Portal took me slightly less than 2 hours. It lasted about as long as a demo and it won numerous Game of the Year awards.
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March 12th, 2008, 14:47
FPS style games are often way short like 6-8 hours. Episode2-3 on hl2 lasted only 2-3 hours. They could be longer for sure.
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March 12th, 2008, 19:12
Could it be that games are focused too much on editors ? Or others who have much too much time playing a game, actually ?

Well, I must admit that gaming mag editoirs have time constraints of their own … : They have to deliver articles and revies within a certain period of time. But apart of that … It's a bit like my theory that gaming mag editors are "overfed" with graphics and the best of all, because they simply *have* the best systems of all at work - which puts their expectations so high that they will disregard graphically and otherwise not so good games too early, imho.

Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction. (E.F.Schumacher, Economist, Source)
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March 12th, 2008, 19:45
I find this interesting because I personally am experiencing the opposite of what it discussed in that article… and I think I know why…

When I was a teenager, and in my 20's I played tons of games and finished very few. Now that I can look back I can see why that happened. Basically there was always something new and shiny coming out. So I would play a new game for a while… a new one would come out… and I would inevitably drop my current game to begin playing the new one. This cycle would continue… Basically I had a very short attention span, and only the games that truly grabbed me by the bleeps would get finished.

Now that I'm in my 40's (and since I've been in my early 30's) I have much more patience and a different outlook on games. I still want the shiny new one when it comes out, but now I put it on the list of "to be played". Now I finish every game I start, unless it just bores me silly. As a man, this could be related to the fact that my hormones aren't raging like they were when I was in my teens and twenties (then again that could have nothing to do with it).

But basically I finish more games now, as a somewhat middle-aged man… than I ever did when I was a youngster. As a matter of fact I even go back and finish all those games I dropped years ago.

So I get much more true enjoyment out of the hobby now than when I was younger…

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March 12th, 2008, 20:36
Originally Posted by narpet View Post
Thats actually exactly the same thing that Im doing now on my late 20s (and soon early 30s). The only reason I dont finish games now is usually due to technical difficulties (i.e with old games).

One reason for it might be that by forcing myself to finish every game Im able to spend less money on them. I have to be picky what I buy even though money is no issue.
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March 12th, 2008, 23:19
Finally finished Eschalon Book 1. Took me 50 hours, but I totally enjoyed the journey!!

If God said it, then that settles it!!

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March 13th, 2008, 00:12
Originally Posted by zakhal View Post
FPS style games are often way short like 6-8 hours.
My complaint with them is that before Medal of Honor Allied Assault the standard length was more like ~15 hours.

As for game length, I love huge games … but am struggling with Loki - it is like the frickin' Energizer Bunny … it just keeps going, and going and going … and not in a good way. You get an element of a quest and realize there are six desert, cavern and dungeon areas that are nearly identical to the six you slogged through for the last part of the quest and that each area has about 300 enemies to kill … and that the combat just ain't that great.

— Mike
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March 13th, 2008, 00:15
I never force myself to complete anything, and I'm extremely fickle about having fun.

My problem is that I'm pretty much analysing what I do, and what value it has to me 24/7. That goes for EVERYTHING I do, including the unthinkable scenarios.

It's the way my brain is wired, and only the very cream of the crop in terms of experiences can make me forget about that.

That, or a lot of alchohol.
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March 13th, 2008, 00:28
Even though most games are shorter now then they were in the 90s and earlier I have a hard time finishing a game. I know that some of that is the lack of quality of games now but even with the quality games I have a hard time finishing a game. I couldn't finish all games before either but that was when the games were way too long like Daggerfall.
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March 13th, 2008, 11:24
Originally Posted by txa1265 View Post
it just keeps going, and going and going … and not in a good way. You get an element of a quest and realize there are six desert, cavern and dungeon areas that are nearly identical to the six you slogged through for the last part of the quest and that each area has about 300 enemies to kill … and that the combat just ain't that great.
That's basically the same feeling I had with Nox.

In the end, I rushed through it, in God Mode.


I still love playing Commander Keen, although only once in a while, because everything looks so funny and unique and fresh. It fuells my curiosity.

Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction. (E.F.Schumacher, Economist, Source)
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March 13th, 2008, 12:13
Originally Posted by Alrik Fassbauer View Post
That's basically the same feeling I had with Nox.
To put it in context, I loved Nox and didn't get bored.

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March 13th, 2008, 15:44
I couldn't even make it through the demo for Loki—and you know how I gravitate to the HnS Dark Side. I thought it was extremely mediocre stuff, but then I was hoping for a really good take on the mythology angle, and it was all just window dressing for a lot of run of the mill click combat, imo.

Edit: AFA finishing fewer games, I don't think my ratio has changed. I buy more games than I used to, but finish about the same percentage(maybe 50-75%)—I do have a bigger pile of games I've never even started, though.

Where there's smoke, there's mirrors.
Last edited by magerette; March 13th, 2008 at 17:19.
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March 14th, 2008, 12:53
Originally Posted by txa1265 View Post
To put it in context, I loved Nox and didn't get bored.
WEll, there actually were parts in Nox that i really liked.

But my defensive play style had brought me very slowly into the … 3rd act ? Or how was it called ?

I realized that this was NOT the end, as I had predicted for myself … but the game rather had even more levels and acts … I was just too slow in my defensive game style for this game. This was an action game, not a game for someone who likes TBS games.

Or so was my impression.

What I actually found great was what i called the "object model" of the game: Almost all items there are moveable objects !

Plus, I found the graphics quite cute. Yes, right read: to me they are cute.

Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction. (E.F.Schumacher, Economist, Source)
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