All Bette’s stories have happy endings. That’s because she knows when to stop. She’s realized the real problem with stories — if you keep them going long enough, they always end in death. – Sandman #6 – Neil Gaiman
I’ve been thinking about endings recently. About how much we dread and resist them, but how joyous and cathartic they can be when they finally come. At least they can when handled well. A bad ending can retroactively taint everything that came before and turn something you enjoyed into something to be forgotten or even actively railed against. The way something ends is the last impression it makes, and often becomes the most powerful.
So much of what separates a good ending from a bad one is timing; leaving before the welcome is overstayed. It’s more complex than that of course; even a well-timed end can fall flat if badly handled, but dragging things out too long seems to be the surest way to ensure a bad end.
|Also, not bringing a friend
MMOs by their nature are not good at ending. They’re created with the intent of continuing on as long as possible. When they do end, it’s often after a decline in studio support that leads to a sort of stumbling half-life leading up to the end. Is it any wonder that so many players, when they do finally cut ties with a game, seem to be filled with hatred for the game they presumably once enjoyed? When the end did come for them, it had taken too long and was no longer satisfying.
It falls to the players to ensure a good end in these situations, by accepting when the time has come. Don’t fall into the trap of forcing yourself to keep going when a game is no longer entertaining. Be willing to accept when the time to move on has come. That way, at least the memories can still be pleasant. And you might even decide to return at a later date. After all, the other thing about endings is that the best ones always leave you wanting more.