Tuesday 27 November 2007

Games I've (not) finished playing

Portal seems to have kicked off a bit of a renaissance of the discussion about game length. This mainly revolves around the fact that Portal is a bit short, but finishes before it outstays its welcome, unlike many other games.

I've got a fair sized game collection, mostly supplemented by buying back catalog games out from Amazon while I was in the UK, inspired by various discussions on Eurogamer. I picked up Psychonauts that way, before it came out on Steam. And Deus Ex, before it came out on Steam. And System Shock 2, before it came out on Steam. Did I mention I occasionally have a bit of a timing problem? (Does anyone know if it'll ever be possible to re-register your non-Valve games on Steam - I doubt it).

And while I initially dismissed the discussion, I've just been thinking about exactly which games I have finished, out of about the 60 or 70 titles I own (more than a few of which are still in shrink wrap).

Games I've Finished
Half-Life 2
Metal Gear Solid 2: The Sons of Liberty -
Alternated lives with a friend. Treated it like a movie night.
Halo 2 - I'm actually not sure whether I've finished this or not, now. It just dragged on into repetitive, badly designed levels, full of the same enemies. Over and over again.

Nothing more to see here.

Oh, you wanted to know what I haven't finished and why...

Games I've not finished
Half-Life - Read Xen was crap. Got to Xen. Decided it was crap.
Half-Life 2: Episode Two - Got to the final level. I had problems coordinating looking up, because I'm gaming on a MacBook laptop using Cross-over in windowed mode at the moment. I could work through most of the times this caused problems, but not repeatedly looking up to shoot stuff at Striders with my gravity gun.
God of War 2 - Just lost interest in Kronos. He just wasn't as interesting a character the second time around. And a lot of the same ideas got recycled.
God of War - Got to the Blades of Hades. Broke the controller in frustration. Decided trying to balance on beams whilst jumping slowly spinning blades wasn't fun (There's a moment pushing a box on the first level that nearly stopped me as well).
Zelda: The Wind Waker - Got to the final fight with Ganon. Figured out that 'yes, I had to bounce the light arrows off the shield'. Wasn't able to coordinate it and ended up firing my light arrows in random directions. Gave up.
Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake-Eater - Stuck on the final Boss fight.
Metroid Prime - Stuck on the first boss fight. I know what to do, but again, having to do it repeatedly under time pressure is stopping me.
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas - Stopped shortly after I left San Andreas. Actually, that's not quite true - the wilderness levels after it were entertaining. It was the 'learning to fly' mission that put me off.
Grand Theft Auto: Vice City - Kept getting distracted by having fun doing little. Then San Andreas came out. Not being able to climb or swim suddenly seemed stupid.
Oblivion - Got lost and trawled through random dungeons. Decided that it was fun, but at level 1, the dungeons weren't much of a challenge. Lost interest.
Morrowind - Had a laugh when a wizard dropped out of the sky almost on top of me with a 'massive jump' spell in his inventory. Stopped immediately afterwards when I saw a game completion video that used the said spell to finish the game in a ridiculously short speed run.
Psychonauts - Got to the Milkman level while giggling insanely most of the time (Except in the dull camp levels). Found a jump that required me think in non-Euclidean geometry. Did I mention I hate dying repeatedly on the same platform jump?
Brain Training - Stopped when I finally got to age 20 ahead of my wife. While drunk.
Trauma Centre: Under the Knife - Just as it gets interesting, this game hits a difficulty wall akin to attempting surgery after having cut through the major tendons in your hands with a scalpel.
Okami - Thought something funny was up when I had to fight the main enemy really early in the game (Actually, ending Okami there would have been perfect). Went through another two boss fights that were just not as interesting, then read on Game Intestine that I'd have to repeat all the boss fights at a later point in the game. Twice. Gave up when I had to race a magical ticket through a series of timed puzzles. That's right - a magical ticket.

I could go on, but I just decided to stick to the highlights. I'm talking about highly rated games that have attracted a huge following and great reviews. And while I'm by no means a brilliant gamer, I've got a lot more time on my hands, particularly at the moment, than say, someone with kids. Or a job, for that matter. So there is definitely an industry wide problem there, at least from my point of view. It doesn't help that I tend to spoiler myself silly.

Care to share your 'not finishing a game' experiences?

And if you're worried that this blog is heading away from talking about Unangband, this directly relates to problems in Unangband. The game is too long, and the difficulty curve too step later in the dungeon. I'll talk about that at a later date, but I have a hunch that games stop being interesting when you stop being given new toys, or being shown how to play with them in new ways.

Which implies that the Unangband should end when you reach level 40 (there are no mage/priest spells after that level), and dungeon depth 50 or so, just like the original Moria. Antoine, of Quickband and Ironband fame, is a great exponent of the shorter game, as is Steamband.

(Actually, I cheated slightly. I've also finished HL2: Episode One, and Minerva, and HL: Blue Shift and HL: Opposing Forces. And God of War, when I took a day off sick and spent 3 hours jumping those f&($!£ng Blades. Ironically, the level in Hades itself where you have to navigate spinning spines set with blades, I found easy to navigate by just jumping repeatedly. And I was used to dying senselessly by that point.)

In related news: How do you feel after finishing playing a game?

(I have a suggested fix)


Mikolaj said...

I'd go for CL 50 and DL 50. I'd go for 0.6.3, because it's a waste balancing the game for DL 100 knowing we will swap to DL 50 eventually.

wererogue said...

I've started reading your journal after the post on loading - I'm enjoying it so far. The only (ascii) roguelikes I've played are rogue and nethack, but I enjoyed both, and I'll try out unangband when I get a chance.

There are a whole ton of games that I've not finished due to time, difficulty of one section, lack of interest (Metroid Prime 2) or, most often, a new game coming out. I've decided in the last couple of months to stop buying new games so that I can finish a bunch of the excellent, really enjoyable games I have lined up, including:

Okami - playing now
Overlord - Got to the desert, decided to play a more evil overlord, got to the dwarves.
BioShock - Got to the fishing tackle shop, frustrated by eternally respawning enemies and eternally respawning self. Might not bother with this one.
Thief 3 - I forget how far I got - I'll need to restart the game anyway, as I don't have my saves. Same goes for all below.
Doom 3
Hitman Contracts
The Thing
Freedom Force

The only exceptions are going to be huge Nintendo Wii releases - I have MP3 lined up (it's been long enough now that I actually want to play a Metroid game again) Super Mario Galaxy, and I'll make time for Super Smash Bros. Brawl when it eventually comes out.

Robson said...

Games I've completed...

Games I haven't completed:

Escape from Monkey Island - I don't like the control system. Completely put me off playing it, which is a shame, because I love the first three. I wish it was like the third one.

Hitman 2 - Hitman Contracts came out, which I felt was better in a lot of ways, so I played that with the intention of going back to Hitman 2. Then Hitman Blood Money came out! Might go back to this in the future.

Company of Heroes - Not sure why I stopped playing this. I suppose I just didn't find it fun. Completed about five missions.

C&C Covert Operations - I was young and they were f@£*%#ing hard. That's not a complaint.

Simcity Socities - Nice idea, but too much stuff doesn't make sense, it doesn't feel like the designers put a lot of effort in and it doesn't feel like Simcity. I like the little people to build stuff as well, otherwise I'm just placing stuff down. Might as well open Paint and draw a city.

Red Alert 2 / C&C3 - I got these because I used to play the originals all the time, but the new versions just didn't have the same feeling. C&C3 is clearly an excellent game, it's just not what I was looking for.

Theme Park World - Same as above. Plus, this seemed to be aimed at kids.

World of Warcraft - I'm too scared that it would take over my life.

Fahrenheit - The press-arrow-buttons doesn't feel right and seriously annoyed me. Even though I switched it to "easy" it's still a complete nightmare. An interactive film is a great idea, but for me they really messed it up with the pressing arrows thing.

Fable - Played this for a little bit, but then I got Oblivion and that was far more open-ended, so I played that instead. Might go back to it one day.

Oblivion - I suppose I have "completed" this, in the sense that I've completed the main quest line and a ton of side quests. It's just so big that I don't feel like I've completed it. This isn't a complaint though, I think the open-endedness and massive amount of things-to-do is awesome. I'll be buying every Elder Scrolls game that comes out, unless they do something stupid, like turn it into a MMORPG.

N - Awesome game. Completed all of it except for the last two sets of the user levels, because there's one level I can't do.

Matthew Gallant said...

I would urge you to reconsider finishing Metal Gear Solid 3, the ending is extremely poignant. I can understand your frustration with the boss fight though.

moobaa said...

I've finished 39, and have 64 left unfinished. Yes, I've got a spreadsheet ;)

Most recent completions were Space Giraffe and E4 on XBLA... currently got five(!) games on the go...

What can I say - I'm obsessive/compulsive :}

Unknown said...

Eh, better late than never.

I finished Okami, and I can understand your frustration. Its not inherently a bad game - its beautiful, the control scheme is very imaginative, and the story is alright. Unfortunately, the dungeon design is shoddy. I HATE retooled boss fights.

Games I've never completed:

Baten Kaitos: Got through the first boss fight, figured out the combat system was based on a card game. Quit playing.

Final Fantasy XII: Got about 8/10 of the way through and became abysmally bored with the plot.

Twilight Princess: Lackluster dungeon design killed this for me. It wasn't nearly as fun as its predecessors. Fishing was alright though. My wife has placed an embargo on my video game purchases until I finish this game. I haven't bought any new games, but I haven't picked it back up yet either.

Dragon Quest VIII: UGH. Talk about a pain in the neck game. This is probably the slowest-playing game I've ever owned since the original Dragon Warrior. I think I made it halfway, maybe. I'm not sure honestly.

Metroid Prime: I actually made it further than you did, but not to the final boss; instead I got to some evil thing that is sometimes invincible, sometimes regenerating, and all the time horrible.