Many, many nights ago, I loaded up Blocks That Matter. It’s a puzzle-based platformer starring a little mechanical fella known as the Tetrobot, which can collect materials from the world and then build shapes out of them. You then use these shapes–as well as a few other abilities acquired along the way–to solve puzzles, bypass enemies, and reach the end of the level, which is always a purple portal. The main goal is to rescue your creators, these two Swedish goofballs that got kidnapped, but that’s kind of moot in the grand scheme of things. It’s quiet, cute, easy to grasp, with the potential for some serious brain-twisters, and full of love for the games that inspired itself.
However, one of the Steam Achievements for Blocks That Matter is for watching the credits, a increasingly more common concept that I just can’t quite grok. You select CREDITS from the main menu, kick back for maybe a minute, possibly a minute and a half, and then you’re done, achieving a thingy. It pops up in the corner, like you did something magical. This one, in fact:
Videogames are not movies: Watch the credits until the end
Right. Nothing tricky about this at all, and yet it got me thinking about credits, and the whens and whys I would watch them. Certainly, if I didn’t see this Achievement while perusing the list on Steam, I wouldn’t have watched the credits on my own. At least, not until I beat the game, that is–if such a happening ever happens. It might not, considering they are totally accessible from the main menu. But I like watching credits. It is part of the “completing a game” process for me, where I remain sitting, absorbing the final moments of a game before it goes to black and then back to the main menu. Some credits are better than others, which leads me to believe that designers need to dangle a carrot on a string to get people to watch.
A couple other videogames in my collection have Achievements for watching the end credits or simply sitting through them to see something special at the end at least. Deus Ex: Human Revolution gave out an Achievement if you sat through their seriously boring, long, and numbing credits sequence for a little Easter egg that connected that game with the the original Deus Ex. Hint: think Robert Page, Project Morpheus, Chimera nano-virus, and the D Project. I think the original Assassin’s Creed did something like this too, a teaser for the next game in a way. Can’t think of more at the moment, but I’m sure they are out there. Feel free to school me in the comments below.
On the flip side, just the other night, I beat Borderlands 2. The final fight was beyond lame, as I was able to glitch the Warrior into submission by firing corrosive-based bullets at it through a lava-made waterfall after it killed me initially. Just don’t go back down into the area after respawning. Simple as that. Meh. That topic is for another day. The end credits were a lot of fun. No surprise, given the writing and general aloofness present throughout Pandora and from Gearbox itself. I liked that it went alphabetically, naming who did what voices, surprised to see so many actors/actresses taking on multiple parts. Did you know that Randy Pitchford himself voiced Crazy Earl? Well, now you do. Further down, everyone–and I do mean everyone–got to write a sentence or two, thanking whoever, whatever. A lot of these boiled down to gratitude for family and loved ones, but at least it was something different to read than copyright jargon. Also, while all this is all happening, some great concept art is fading in and out. It made me feel a whole lot better, and I didn’t even need to up my Gamerscore because of it.
Other memorable end credits include The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past and Suikoden/Suikoden II, which are the kind of motif endings that like to show you just how everyone in the world is getting on after the final evil was vanquished. The ones for ‘Splosion Man reminded me of that one time in college when I was at a college frat party and I drank some…um, nevermind. Portal because of that song.
Hmm…I thought I had a point in all of this, but I think I lost the thread somewhere. Basically, if your end credits are engaging and creative, you don’t need to toss in some digital trophy to make me watch them. Treat them with the same care and thought as your game’s plot or character designs. Just don’t give me a tiny list of never-ending names backdropped with uninteresting music. Give me something to read, something personal to take away. I’m watching these credits to see who was behind the thing I just put hours of my life into, whether that’s a good or bad spin; regardless, recognition is deserved. I am watching, but give me something to watch.