"I want to do that again!"
If there's something any creator should aspire to do, then it's... well, actually create something, probably! Once that something is created, though, then I think one thing you really want to leave your audience with is that feeling.
Among the many feelings that someone in your audience will be left with, whether you're making a TV show, a movie, a game, a book, you name it, that "I wanna go again!" feeling should be one you always try to keep in mind.
I'm sure a lot of us replay games. Many of us have even blogged about doing it in the past. I think there's something to be said about the way people are made to want to, however, and when you get down to it, everything that really needs to be said about it is in this very sentence.
Did Zetta just get to a point in a timely fashion? This must be serious... Or maybe... An impersonator?! Quick, someone call the police!
"The way people are made to want" to do these things... Doesn't that weird? We're made to want to do something? Shouldn't we just, you know, want?
If we're talking about stuff like video games and TV shows... I don't know, should we? Do we? Should we just want and take, regardless of quality or reason? Is something not made to make us want more if it is designed in such a way that we feel some sort of desire to experience it again? Aren't we "made" to want things again?
In less confusing words, I was actually being a little rhetorical there. We are made to want to do things, and we're made to want to do them again. What I want to talk about is actually the first part of that quote. The "the way" part, to be specific.
Whew, false alarm, it was just flavor text and stalling like usual. It's okay everybody!
I've jumped back and forth from a few different games recently. Not quite as many as Pixie seems to be doing, but a few, which is pretty good for someone who was only playing a mobile game every so often a few months back. And hey, I can cheat a little and just name everything I've touched over the course of a longer time period, how about that?
While Fire Emblem Awakening has been my main squeeze for some time now, I've also had brief travels to the lands of Monster Hunter, Shovel Knight, not to mention the infrequent pit stops at the Neptunia Inn and the Senran Kagura Spa as I keep upcoming releases for both franchises in mind.
In hindsight, I'm sure that, to some of you, both of those things probably sound like brothels that would exist in the skeevier parts of the Super Smash Bros. universe. To those of you in that part of the audience, I can only make a joke relating in some way to Palutena before I hastily get things back on track.
But not too hastily...
The way all of these games offer players a "want" to play again differs, but it took beating Fire Emblem Awakening for me to really catch on to it. Interestingly, Neptunia, Monster Hunter, and Fire Emblem all shared the fact that they had grinding in them in common, and all of them made grinding "fun" in their own way, though Monster Hunter has one caveat to it that really kills the experience as well as the game's longevity for me, reducing it to something I play in bursts and then leave alone for long periods of time. At least right now anyway.
Neptunia offers multiple endings, a grind, a new game plus, some challenges, and that sort of thing. Shovel Knight actually offers roughly the same, sans the grind and with the addition of a much better new game plus. Monster Hunter is, well, Monster Hunter, and Fire Emblem has a finite game with no new game plus or post-game, but it does have other difficulty settings and multiple save slots.
With some of these games, I'd just replay again to see another ending or to grab a trophy here and there when I might have already put them down otherwise. If I'm only ten minutes from getting something, why not, right? In other cases, the grinding is enjoyable, but I'm still basically continuing and building my already super strong characters or money pot or whatever. I'm not breaking out a brand new file to experience everything fresh. Why waste the time when I already have a perfectly functional file right here? Sure, I do it for Soul Sacrifice, but that's special.
None of these games, not even Shovel Knight, basically force you to start over if you want to keep playing. It's a design choice I would have once called primitive and out of date, and part of me does still feel Fire Emblem Awakening is lacking a few modern touches many other games take for granted now that would make it damn near perfect, but that's neither here nor there.
This might come as a surprise to hear from someone that talks as much as I do, but I don't like wasting time. While I may go into it more at a later date, that caveat of Monster Hunter is the timer, and the feeling came up after fights that should have left me feeling accomplished as all else since I took down two beasts I'd never seen or encountered before and didn't get knocked out once.
But it took me down to the end of the timer, and I just hated that.
Towards the end, I stopped enjoying the fight, enjoying the fact that I was doing fairly well at a game that I openly admit that I suck at, because I felt like the clock had become my enemy far more than any monster could be. All my time would have been wasted if that countdown hit zero, and the fact I hadn't lost or died and that I was doing well at Monster Hunter was all meaningless because I wasn't doing well fast enough. Seriously, who decided to make the default option also the time trial here?
So as great as both of those wins were, I didn't really even get the same kind of feeling that I did from clearing Shovel Knight's boss rush on new game plus, let alone something of the same level.
Then again, Shovel Knight is an amazing game, Monster Hunter only wishes it could be that good, and I've gotten off topic again.
Starting Fire Emblem Awakening all over again would, in a way, mean that I would be "wasting" my time. I would be forgoing time that I could be spending on something new and unknown on something that, while certainly more challening and most definitely enjoyable, really wouldn't be, at least not to the same extent.
And yet... I want to.
Fire Emblem Awakening doesn't have a post-game, save for DLC I always planned to get for the harder save(s) before I blew so much time on this first one, and it doesn't have a new game plus. At best, I can carry my old player character around in the log book and even recruit him again, but I don't want to do that. Anything I do further is essentially "wasted" time. I'm not getting trophies, not being "made" to play again to see the other endings, and really, there's nothing gained out of doing this all again but harder.
And yet I want to.
Using these "archaic" means of game design, or rather, thanks to "the way" Fire Emblem Awakening has gone about things, Nintendo has offered something to me where I just want to keep going and going. The game being really good also helps, obviously. If they hadn't added the save file restriction into the mix, it's very likely I would be well into my second game by now instead of just starting it, and in fact, I might already be plotting out how I would go into a third, fourth, and fifth if such options were available to me!
Because I want to.