The SavyGamer Podcast, Episode 10

We're back! Except, not quite. We're testing the water with a new format for the show, and we'd love to hear your feedback. Each show we'll have a Big Issue segment in which we'll pick something to talk about and discuss it. Agree with us? Disagree? Let us know. This week - why people put down or finish games.

The podcast contains spoilers for BioShock (9:55-11:54), GTAIV (27:06-33:55), Gears of War (33:55-38:41).

If you want to comment on our thoughts about completing games (or not), please comment, or email me at

Total Runtime: 1:29:46
Total Filesize: 84.2MB

Got feedback on the show? Post a comment, or email us:
LewieP -
Will -

We're also on Twitter at and!

Update: I just listened back to the podcast, and I appear to have said that HMV will pricematch their web site in store. This is not true, I misheard Willeth, I thought he was asking if PC World pricematch HMV online. Sorry for any confusion - LewieP


Matthew said...

Ooh, fancy.

LewieP said...

Urgh, just listened back and my voice kind of skips a few times, sorry guys.

I'm visiting my parents atm, and using the crappy old family computer, and I think that's the problem.

Hopefully will be fixed next one ;D

Anonymous said...

What makes me want to finish a game?

Story. I love good narratives.

uglifruit said...

Firstly nice to have you back.

I thought I would take some time to answer Willeth’s ‘what makes one finish, or fail to finish’ a game.

I should point out that I do not consider myself a hardcore gamer – I own a Wii, a DS and PSP and the last gen consoles. I am much more likely to pick up games second hand, and favour short bursts of gaming rather than prolonged sessions.

Certainly in my case, a sense of progression is a motivating factor to carry on. I actual like this to be tangible – a new area, a new level, a % complete meter. These spur me on. As I don’t play for great chunks of time, I find plot and character development secondary in keeping me playing, as I can rarely remember what I was doing or why I was doing it. Similarly I find very complicated control methods are quite demotivating, as I may well have to relearn how to play. This creates problems late on in games where the player’s skill is expected to be much better than mine usually is.

Games that have kept me playing (or rather returning to) until I finished them tend to be ones that are quite short.

I can list some that I have completed, and why I feel I did so…

Ico – Despite being very beautiful and soforth (which it undoubtedly is), the puzzle element of the areas meant occasional play worked very well – objectives were clear, and controls were simple. The notoriously short play time also motivated me.

Tomb Raider Legend – Again, clear goals and a % complete of the game meant there was a palpable sense of progression. There were sections that might have stopped me were it not for walkthroughs, although generally it was quite easy, even with my limited skills.

Super Mario Galaxy – ‘completing’ this game (in so far as completing the story and saving the galaxy) is very easy. Each level offers a different challenge, and the hub means that the challenge and difficulty can be managed by the player. C.f. Tomb Raider Legend, with its linear path and occasional difficulty spike (generally bosses).
SMG gives the satisfaction of ‘completion’ early, with optional extra play as a ‘value add’. Surely this would mean sales of a sequel would not be impacted in the same way as a difficult game to complete (where players may feel inclined to not bother if the previous game had beaten them).

Professor Layton And The Curious Village – yes I completed all the puzzles. The ability to skip them and return to them meant there was rarely a sticking point. Letting players ‘buy’ help on a puzzle really made this a very friendly game. This is very similar puzzles-in-a-hub-words structure to Zack and Wiki on the wii – although I can’t see myself returning to /finishing that thanks to the abhorrent characters.

Burnout Revenge (xbox) – thanks to the fact that every level seems to open up a new car and other races there is a great sense of achievement at all times.

Geometry Wars Galaxy – wii and ds. This has a good ‘keep playing’ mechanic, whereby ingame currency picked up is used to open new levels and buy upgrades. It allows the player to manage progress through the game – choosing to progress either by tooling up on the easy levels, or opening later more difficult levels. It is not a game where ‘progress’ or ‘finishing’ is easy to measure, but there is the draw of new levels. I would certainly be interested in getting a sequel despite not feeling I had seen all this one had to offer.

Portal – its media coverage (and fabled short length) encouraged me to finish this game (at a friend’s house, as I have no current gen machine). Unusually this was in one long sitting, and this is not something I would normally do, but given it was only ever going to take 4-5hours I could devote the time in advance. (Akin to the time commitment of watching a film). I would not have wanted this to be a 20hr game as I would not have found another 4hr space for weeks, and my skills would have diminished.

Psychonauts – The difficulty of this was all over the place. The characters were the factor that returned me to it. I have still yet to finish it, and I have just tried again. I am struggling with the meat circus (with my dad) – very very near the end, according to Gamefaq. Had it not made me laugh out loud, I would have given up on many occasions thanks to horrible difficulty spikes.

Sam and Max Season 1. A point and click adventure – a genre I very much like, but often leaving them for a long while without playing can make returning to them impossible – remembering quest and items. S&Ms1 addresses this by having short (2hr?) episodes that are playable in their own right. This works very well for me as a casual player. The last p&c I complete was The Gene Machine (played under dosbox) – with the characters and linear nature (with a small inventory) and a good sense of progress when moving from area to area helped keep me interested. I shall be investing in BrokenSword for wii, despite having finished it on PC some years ago – when I had more time to devote to large stories. Familiarity and brand loyalty are influencing this purchase (when it drops below £18 I think).

Regarding games that I have not finished – and there are plenty – it is often as simple as the fact that I am no longer enjoying them. I have limited free time to play games, and if I am spending an hour grinding on a game, I could be playing something else that is actually fun. Bully (wii) kept me interested for a while, but now I it is starting to feel like work as I complete missions. I don’t resent the game for that, and I’d invest in a sequel, but I doubt I’ll be carrying on with this game. I don’t feel the lack of continuity would bother me particularly.

On other occasions I lose the ‘plot’ and can’t get back into a game. I don’t want to restart, and can’t progress. (Step forward Zelda). Other games are just become too hard, or piss about with the mechanic that I like (as you mentioned in the podcast). Tomb Raider / Ico / Mario Galaxy …. I like environmental puzzles and platforming. I do not like bosses particularly. They are the bits I am hoping will be over quickly. The fights in PoP Sands of Time are the bits I dislike. I prefer jumping from A to B to C. The necessity to vary this is only a benefit to gamers who like both styles of play, surely.

And you are right about sequels, I want to play a prequel before the sequel, and this dissuades me from jumping into franchises late on. (Metal Gear for instance, as I have MGS Twin Snakes for GC sitting in my ‘to do’ pile, and I would not buy another without first giving that a go). I wonder if ‘the industry’ recognise this? Don’t sequels in films always do about 80% of the original? And seemingly all games are currently at iteration 4+ which must affect things.

Anyway, sorry to blather on so long.

Keep up the good work.

Andy ‘uglfiruit’

uglifruit said...

...I have subsequently finished Psychonauts. It turns out that just being reminded that a game is sitting there (through hearing it mentioned on a podcast) is enough to spur one on to defeat the damned Meat Circus Level and finish a game.

Writing about Bully also made me return to it with a renewed vigour. I am going to defeat Bif at boxing and carry on. Another instance that suggests that out-of-mind = out-of-console (and in-mind = in-console).

I am not sure how this would help the average game developer. Doing lots of interviews (even AFTER launch), free DLC that keeps it in the news, blatant publicity seeking stunts. Are companies likely to spend money doing this to KEEP people playing to finish a game? I would imagine that their efforts would be spent on new/forthcoming games, ie. those with a financial return, rather than the less tangible return of 'gamer commitment'.

I hope my waffling helps.

Anonymous said...

Are these podcasts a monthly thing now then? :P

LewieP said...

Not monthly. For the time being, they are "as and when we have free time".