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  1. As excited as I am for PoE, one thing really has me worried: western RPGs have a problem with endings. Anyone remember the Mass Effect 3 debacle? Everybody got mad about ME3's ending, and they were right to be, it was crap. But to be honest, it was probably the best ending Bioware had ever done - not because it was particularly good, not because it was head-and-shoulders above the rest, but because it was perhaps the only ending they had ever done. Think back. How did BG1 end? BG2? Jade Empire, KotOR? NWN? Each game reaches its climax, final challenges are overcome, and then, they just sort of ... stop. An authority figure tells you about the rest of your life. Maybe you get a 30-second cinematic. A scene where assorted peasants cheer meaninglessly for you. Paragraph-length written epilogues for your party members. This isn't strictly a Bioware problem, although they certainly exemplify it. It's an issue with the entire genre of RPGs in the west1, including everything from older, pure-action games like Diablo and newer turn-based games like Divinity: Original Sin with the familiar abrupt cutoff, to sandboxes which don't have any ending at all until you inevitably get bored. It's a trend that Black Isle/Obsidian has sometimes ducked partially - in having protagonists that are more complex and involved with the narrative than just "HELLO MY NAME IS PLAYER SURROGATE," games like PS:T and TSL are slightly better than most. In other cases, like Stick of Truth or MotB, they've dodged the bullet entirely and delivered a really genuine wrap-up that left me with a feeling of being finished. But then on the other hand we have games like the IWD series, or the NWN2 OC (light spoilers) ... Maybe this isn't as important for most people as it is for me, but since I'm here for the narrative, I want things to wrap up in a way that's satisfying. I want a proper denouement, and an ending more emotionally substantial than just watching something explode while someone narrates ominously. That doesn't necessarily mean wrapping everything up, or answering all of my questions in life, or giving me 15 minutes of Hobbits getting patted on the head in different locations. But it does mean that I want a story to end like a story, not like a game of Connect Four. All of this leads back to my greatest worry about PoE: that, like so many of these otherwise excellent games, it will fail to deliver an effective ending, or even a closing act. It's not that I don't have confidence in Obsidian's ability to write an ending - as I've mentioned, it's one of the very few developers that definitely has the know-how to write and direct solid endings. But it is something I hope they give active thought to avoiding, because this is such a plague on Western RPGs. So much time is devoted to giving players things to do that core narratives lose emotional significance, and become little more than an arbitrary - and often extremely sudden - stopping point. I hope that, as a spiritual successor to the IE games, PoE can surpass them in giving real emotional satisfaction to its ending. (Sorry if my thought process here is a bit disorganized - this is the kind of thing I have an essay's worth of thoughts about, but no desire to write a paper on, so I'm trying to sum it up.) tl;dr - In developing PoE's story, I encourage Obsidian to carefully consider the historical flaws in the endings of IE games and other CRPGS, and how to avoid them. Japanese RPGs are by no means necessarily better, but in my experience it's a less persistent issue for them, in part because JRPGs often duck the biggest underlying causes of No Ending Syndrome.
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