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Is Being A Completionist Weird?

June 23, 2010

When I was younger, I used to drain all the content I could out of each game I purchased. I used to sit for hours in front of the game unlocking all the extra modes, character costumes, secret areas and gadgets. Some games had a percentage on the save data to say how much you had completed and I was one of those gamers who wouldn’t feel entirely satisfied until that number hit 100.

In fact, this was quite a breakthrough for not only the games worth but also my bank balance. I’d refuse to purchase or ask my parents for any new titles until I had completed my current one. What if I started a new game and got distracted and would forget to finish off my old one? Heaven forbid!

If my younger self had known that by the time I hit my early twenties I’d have a pile of uncompleted games on my desk, she’d have been very upset. Moodily, she would glare at me until I organised some kind of rigorous game completion schedule that I’d follow until that game pile ceased to exist.

The thing is, I still want to see that 100% mark but I just don’t have the time. This is especially problematic when I have more bank to “play” with and am happily willing to purchase the next released day one. Something which is equally ridiculous seeing that if I waited a week I could have that forty pound purchase reduced by a tenner (I’m looking at you Blur).

I recently got back into The Last Remnant, one of Square Enix’s many rushed out RPGs for the Xbox 360. It’s not actually that bad if you turn a blind eye to the horrific frame rate issues and levelling up system incurred by their inability to master Epic’s Unreal engine. The story is intriguing and, once mastered, the battle system is quite interesting. If you want to give it a try then please try the PC version as it has turbo mode and will save you hours of wasted game play.

Anyway, my point is that I was well on my way to 100% completing that game. I had five more quests to polish off before courageously storming the last bosses lair. It was going well, I spent most of the afternoon playing and had four missions done. It was getting pretty late but I soldiered on and was on my way to the last quest only to notice that the NPC that activated it, ironically called the “Mysterious Woman” was missing, mysterious indeed. I checked on several forums to see where she could be or where I went wrong but she never appeared.

I even sat down with a pen and paper to write down all the quests I had done and then crossed them out one by one via an online list. I missed one quest called “At Hatreds End”, what the hell? In fact, the most frustrating thing about this quest is that “At Hatreds End” is part of a quest that requires you to make a specific decision. A decision that is not recommended by many guides online as you miss out on valuable items and money. For fucks sake! So, the quest doesn’t activate should you choose to take the items rather than revenge.

So I decided to just finish the game and get on with my life. Took on the last boss, defeated it and booted back to the dashboard at the end. Then I sat there, in the middle of the night, staring at the screen thinking “I could just start from the beginning again”, which is totally absurd seeing I have already pumped well over 150 hours into the game (seriously). Why would I even consider starting again from scratch? What is wrong with me!?

Since then I’ve been forcing myself to play something else, this time settling with Final Fantasy XIII so I can power level my team to take on the last Cei’th stone mission. In the corner of my eye is the box for The Last Remnant and I keep thinking that I could just put a weekend into it, skip all the cut scenes and power through all the side quests.

So this weekend I am going to try my best to play something else. Perhaps Alan Wake or maybe even some Red Dead Redemption? I know what will probably happen however… I might jump back into TLR just because I’m stubborn. Actually, I might just do it tonight!

Wait a minute….

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12 Comments leave one →
  1. Neil Castle permalink
    June 23, 2010 4:14 pm

    If the players desire to ‘complete’ a game comes at the expense of the experience then it’s weird yes.

    • June 24, 2010 11:43 am

      I think you get more experience from doing all these extra things.

      I certainly learned more about the characters in TLR by doing numerous side quests than not doing them 🙂

  2. marcel permalink
    June 23, 2010 4:25 pm

    im a completionist without the time to be one. it hurts 😦
    and there are just too many good games outthere 😥

    halp!

  3. June 23, 2010 4:25 pm

    I too was a completionist in youth. Certainly nothing weird about it. You just grow up, and have less time. From infancy a Zelda nut, the idea of not finishing a Zelda game right down to defeating those persnickety archery puzzles was terrifying to me. But once the final boss was beaten in Twilight Princess, I just didn’t care any more. There’s always another game to move onto now, and no time to collect every magic shell, unlock every secret door, rescue every stranded NPC and so forth.

    Personally, I blame the year of my life spent playing Morrowind, where I simply tried to everything, realised there was always more to do, had a little cry and then gave up.

    Of course, completionism can become a danger. Many moons ago my brother became so obsessed with finishing Ghouls & Ghosts on the Mega Drive without using a single Continue that he played it endlessly. One day I came home from school and found the game had been paused for the last four hours, as Loki, the final boss, exploded, with an improbably large score that could only have been achieved by, yes, finishing the game without using a single Continue.
    I don’t think my brother ever played a computer game ever again…

  4. June 23, 2010 4:33 pm

    It’s funny you should say this, I’ve recently gotten back into The Last Remnant as well. It may be incredibly confusing in places but the world and story that they’ve crafted is genuinely interesting and the battle system is unique. Maybe that’s the reason we keep going back to it despite acknowledging its flaws.

    According to one guide I’ve read (here), At Hatred’s End is not required for Things Unchangable… but only on the PC version. Chalk up another reason why the PC version throws the flaws of the X360 version into even sharper detail. You should also recommend the PC version for removing the Leader designation and making it possible to actually play with the wide roster of interesting, unique characters you can recruit.

  5. BigJonno permalink
    June 23, 2010 6:45 pm

    It’s weird if it’s being done for the sake of it. It’s why I’m glad that the whole achievement thing hasn’t got its hooks into me. I don’t want to spend hours scouring a game for flags or crystals or coins or grains of rice or whatever and promising me ten points for doing so is not going to change my mind.

    Achievements that encourage you to do something challenging, interesting or fun (like the one for climbing to the top of the Agency tower in Crackdown) or pop up when you’ve done something amusing or silly (like the Goth achievement in Fable 2) are great. Ones that force you to do something dull or repetitive are just crap.

    My kryptonite is unlockables. If I can get a new character or a nifty coat, I’ll be quite happy to play through the entire game backwards with my feet while standing on my head.

    • June 23, 2010 6:47 pm

      I can’t really explain why but I’m not doing it for achievement points. I’ve always done it really…

      • BigJonno permalink
        June 23, 2010 6:57 pm

        Oh yeah, it’s just since the advent of achievements, “100% complete” usually means getting all of them and many games rely on horribly dull collect ’em ups.

        I guess what I’m saying is that if getting that 100% completion is intrinsically fun, then go for it. If it stops being fun and you’re still at, then you’re a grade A weirdo and should be locked up with only Bobby Kotick for company.

        Yeah, I’m evil.

      • BigJonno permalink
        June 23, 2010 6:58 pm

        And damn, you pounced on that reply fast. You stalking me, Wainwright?

  6. June 24, 2010 9:14 am

    I guess you’ve just always wanted your money’s worth.

    I’m a lot more careful about what games I 100%. It’s mostly been Pokemon and Mass Effect 2. I’m eyeing Project Sylpheed like you are eyeing TLR. But mine is like… another 2 playthroughs. Then it’s 1000 gs. : D

  7. June 25, 2010 3:49 pm

    Oh god… I can forgive a 10-20-ish hour action game for pulling a stunt like that, but RPGs where you can easily miss something you can never go back for infuriate me.

    Before I even start a game these days (especially a 360 game… delicious cheevos) I look up online the things I could miss and be unable to go back for. I try my best to avoid anything optional so it’s as fresh as possible, but of course I wind up just spoiling the game for myself.

    If I was playing TLR and came across that, I’d… probably immediately sell off the game. Like you I’d be tempted to replay it, and I’d hate myself for it. :\

  8. July 5, 2010 3:22 pm

    Short answer – no it’s not :).

    It’s a problem quite unique to videogames. None of us would consider leaving out some words from a book that we loved. Heck when I love a movie I will even sit through the credits :). Yet it’s wrong to want to experience all that a game has to offer?

    Perhaps what we need to ditch is the idea that once we’ve beaten the last boss in a game it is over. It’s very rare that that is the case these days.

    Or maybe games aren’t so different. I go to the National Gallery in London time and time again, and I look at the same pictures again and again. I seem to find something new there in the same things. I don’t feel guilty about it.

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