I’m in the middle of re-making the classic Grand Theft Auto one but with a distinct Irish Rubber Bandits twist. I’ll have plenty to post about this as the weeks go on but for now, you can download a beta from our facebook page:
As the year goes on, my attention is consistently being drawn towards our final year project. This will of course be a computer game and at the moment we’re looking at creating a standalone PC title. While I won’t go into the full details of the game in this post (mainly because I don’t yet know them myself), one aspect of the game has been on my mind of late.
Endings in computer games have always excited and interested me. Not all players actually play games to their completion, so when one does, there’s a certain sense of camaraderie both with other players who’ve reached the end, as well as with the designers of the game themselves. As a designer you want to both thank and reward the player for sticking it out to the end, hopefully for more than just the achievement points. As a player you expect to reap the benefits of your hard work.
Endings must also make sense within the universe of the game. The emotional impact of an ending can often depend on the style and context of the world you’ve created. For instance, if your game involves a lot of trial and error learned through the repetitive death of your character; any ending where the main player dies as part of the story seems somewhat weak. The player has died plenty of times up until this point, so why is this particular one so much more important? While I wouldn’t want to spoil anything for you, there are numerous incarnations of this problem in many modern games.
Unhappy endings in particular offer an interesting conundrum. For literally thousands of years the forms of human crafted entertainment have fallen under the loose titles of tragedy and comedy. From Sophocles to Shakespeare to Stephen King, audiences have fallen in love with a bitter and devastating ending through the downfall of a protagonist. However, I’ve often wondered if games are allowed to do the same. With books, films and plays the audience is merely a spectator to the art, observing the plight of their hero. With games, the audience is forced to manipulate and guide the hero through the world relying on their own personal skills and ability to reason. Thus an unhappy ending can often create a bitter resentment towards the designers of a game, rather than an appreciation for a well-crafted tale.
If you haven’t guessed by now, our game may potentially end badly for the user and we’ve been struggling with whether or not to stick to our narrative guns or to simply chicken out and reward the player with an ending that would be fitting to their achievement. I must say I’m looking forward to attempting the tragic approach, if only to make the user feedback forms far more interesting to read.