Opinions on warning for cruel twist ending?

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Caveat Lector
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Re: Opinions on warning for cruel twist ending?

#16 Post by Caveat Lector » Fri Sep 06, 2013 9:35 pm

Elmiwisa wrote:
Greeny wrote:
...and then got upset over the Red Wedding episode anyway
Of course they got upset. That was the whole point.

I just don't get why you would even want to write a sad twist ending if you don't want players to feel sad?
She get upset and do not want to watch the series anymore, because it has gotten too depressing, despite claiming to have no problems with downer ending. I think that if there were to be a warning screen right before the first death, she would have turned off the TV.
But if this friend doesn't mind downer endings, wouldn't they have watched the episode anyway even with the warning? As for the "warning screen", at best, a TV show might come with the preface warning "This program contains mature subject matter / scenes that may be upsetting to some viewers", but it wouldn't spoil any major details and it certainly wouldn't be placed right in the middle of the episode itself.

EDIT: To clarify, I'm not saying "Place a non-specific-spoiler warning screen" at the beginning, I'm just citing an example of what's done on TV that would be the rough equivalent of what the OP is suggesting. That doesn't mean it should be carried over to a Visual Novel. What works fine in one medium falls flat on another. Would anyone take the graphic novel When the Wind Blows seriously if, after the couple gets settled into their shelter, Raymond Briggs put up a giant page that said "The rest of the story gets very, very sad so just put the book down"?
Last edited by Caveat Lector on Sat Sep 07, 2013 3:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Opinions on warning for cruel twist ending?

#17 Post by Hazel-Bun » Fri Sep 06, 2013 10:32 pm

Though it's been replied to, to death already, I sort of agree. I think a small warning at the start of the game (not in the middle) would be more appropriate if you think the subject matter requires it ^^

Say your game will result in a lot of gore, blood letting, twisted outcomes, tear-jerkers moments, etc., with no way to avoid them... then I think a small "WARNING: This game contains blank, blank, and blank and may not be suitable for some viewers." is sufficient. It doesn't spoil anything major like what the twist is, prepares people for what is to come and does account for those ends. If there are other, more 'happier' ones, people won't be utterly suprised if the premise seems completely different and they get one like above as well..

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Re: Opinions on warning for cruel twist ending?

#18 Post by Maelstrom-Fenrir » Mon Sep 09, 2013 11:26 am

As others have said, if you have violence, gore, extreme situations, that could disturb someone, list it at the very beginning, like before the title screen.

Telling the reader 'This is going to be sad.' Is just stupid, in my opinion. The whole point of a twist downer, or a downer ending is to make the reading cry and get upset. If you give them a way out and warning them beforehand you are ruining your story. Your story can't be complete until you reach 'the end.' And by telling people to quit reading, you are telling them not to complete it. And by giving an actual warning you are preparing people for it too much.

If you don't want people to read the downer end, why are you writing it?! If you are afraid people will get upset about the ending, why are you writing it so it ends that way? The downer ending is supposed to get you upset! But at the same time it is supposed to allow you to see what you have around you. No offense but if you are so sensitive over people getting upset with your downer ending, maybe you should stay away from them.

A downer ending isn't for everyone. But there must be a reason why the story has to end that way. Otherwise you wouldn't have wrote it that way.

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Re: Opinions on warning for cruel twist ending?

#19 Post by Taleweaver » Wed Sep 11, 2013 3:40 am

You don't give warnings about the things that make your story good. Not EVER. You may give warnings about elements of your story that may make it offensive to others, yes, like homosexual relationships or excessive swearing, but NOT if that's the twist of your story.

Have you watched "The Crying Game"? The twist of that movie MAY be offensive to viewers. But much of the impact of it is lost if you know it in advance.

Also, you're not a good writer until you're perfectly fine with offending your readers for the sake of the story. Some storys NEED to hit your readers in the gut, mercilessly, and if they're good stories, the readers will actually take the blow and be thankful the story dealt it. Some will hate it, but hey, haters gonna... you know.
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Re: Opinions on warning for cruel twist ending?

#20 Post by Elmiwisa » Wed Sep 11, 2013 12:57 pm

Looks like the consensus here is to not have the warning then. I already have the reservation myself (due to the immersion argument) but I asked since there are quite a number of examples out there by famous authors.
And sometimes an implied downer ending that is happy on the surface has longer lasting impact than an outright downer ending, yet without the shock value that might make people hate it. Without giving out the warning, I would just have a pick one and go with it, rather than giving the player the chance to pick. Since the differences between them is just in what get portrayed rather than what happened, no choices made for the player character could be justified in tipping the scale in one or another; the choice, if asked, would be unavoidably directed at the player themselves.

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Re: Opinions on warning for cruel twist ending?

#21 Post by Ophelia » Tue Sep 17, 2013 6:30 pm

I was thinking about this, too. I am very sensible to some kind of topics and it happened a few times that I played a game that seemed absolutely fine but then suddenly included said topics which disturbed my playing experience. But just giving twists away isn't really a good idea either. Guess I'm just gonna refrain from doing something like that myself.

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Re: Opinions on warning for cruel twist ending?

#22 Post by Flick » Sat Sep 21, 2013 12:02 am

I wouldn't explicitly warn people, but I would create an overall mood for the game that implies that there's going to be a major downer ending. The main plot would be serious, and the characters would be noticeably unhappy people, until it finally culminates in a tragedy that any perceptive player would have seen coming, but couldn't tear themselves away from.

Personally, I tend to be a little annoyed at those games that feature lots of comedy and jokes and good times with friends, and then wind up with the romantic interest dying and the protagonist going insane. I've played at least one VN that took that route. ._.

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Re: Opinions on warning for cruel twist ending?

#23 Post by Caveat Lector » Sat Sep 21, 2013 10:41 am

Flick wrote:I wouldn't explicitly warn people, but I would create an overall mood for the game that implies that there's going to be a major downer ending. The main plot would be serious, and the characters would be noticeably unhappy people, until it finally culminates in a tragedy that any perceptive player would have seen coming, but couldn't tear themselves away from.
But why? There is such thing as Darkness Induced Audience Apathy. I wouldn't want to play through a VN that had a consistently grim dark tone from beginning to end with miserable characters.
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Re: Opinions on warning for cruel twist ending?

#24 Post by truefaiterman » Wed Oct 02, 2013 4:14 pm

Caveat Lector wrote:
Flick wrote:I wouldn't explicitly warn people, but I would create an overall mood for the game that implies that there's going to be a major downer ending. The main plot would be serious, and the characters would be noticeably unhappy people, until it finally culminates in a tragedy that any perceptive player would have seen coming, but couldn't tear themselves away from.
But why? There is such thing as Darkness Induced Audience Apathy. I wouldn't want to play through a VN that had a consistently grim dark tone from beginning to end with miserable characters.
It's a matter of balancing your story. I actually have a hard time with my personal project because of this, since...
Personally, I tend to be a little annoyed at those games that feature lots of comedy and jokes and good times with friends, and then wind up with the romantic interest dying and the protagonist going insane. I've played at least one VN that took that route. ._.
I almost made that. Ngh...

I consider drama and dark mood to be a burden for the reader, while taking the story itself to be a journey. Readers don't mind travelling with a bag, but as you add drama and SAD and DARK AND SO TERRIBLE the bag gets heavier... until the reader just gives up. The key is managing to get a dark setting, but balancing it with some good comedy, or just positive character developement, and such.
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Re: Opinions on warning for cruel twist ending?

#25 Post by trooper6 » Thu Oct 03, 2013 1:34 am

Well different people are different. I really liked the film Requiem for a Dream. I like some dark and serious things. And if I'm playing in a serious, dark table top RPG, I am going to be really annoyed if some fellow player keeps cracking jokes in order to break the tension or ruin that dark mood.

So there are people out there who will enjoy a well done dark VN game. There are people who like Mad Men or Breaking Bad. And there are people who hate shows like that.

You can't be all things to all people. I just think you have go with the sort of art you want to make and be aware of the audience you want to communicate with.
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Re: Opinions on warning for cruel twist ending?

#26 Post by Green Glasses Girl » Thu Oct 03, 2013 10:23 pm

^I agree with this. For example, se7en is one of my favorite films, and it gets darker and darker as the film goes on. It has anything but a happy ending. I went in to see a thriller and got what I wanted. Find Know your audience and stick with it! I just think the intent should be apparent from the get-go (not including twist endings). I'm not talking about neon lights that say "THIS IS A TRAGEDY!", but the overall atmosphere and tone the story sets up should be a factor.

Some people will like the genre(s) you pick, some people won't. You can't win them all.
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Re: Opinions on warning for cruel twist ending?

#27 Post by Tempus » Fri Oct 04, 2013 10:08 pm

Green Glasses Girl wrote:Find Know your audience
There's a book called They Became What They Beheld by Edmund Snow Carpenter. The book itself is out of print, but there’s a nice summary of it on YouTube by the user Vihart. To quote the video quoting the book:
  • “If you address yourself to an audience, you accept at the outset the basic premises that unite the audience. You put on the audience, repeating clichés familiar to it. But artists don’t address themselves to audiences; they create audiences. The artist talks to [themself] out loud. If what [they] have to say is significant, others hear and are affected.”
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Re: Opinions on warning for cruel twist ending?

#28 Post by LateWhiteRabbit » Sat Oct 05, 2013 12:57 am

Tempus wrote:
Green Glasses Girl wrote:Find Know your audience
There's a book called They Became What They Beheld by Edmund Snow Carpenter. The book itself is out of print, but there’s a nice summary of it on YouTube by the user Vihart. To quote the video quoting the book:
  • “If you address yourself to an audience, you accept at the outset the basic premises that unite the audience. You put on the audience, repeating clichés familiar to it. But artists don’t address themselves to audiences; they create audiences. The artist talks to [themself] out loud. If what [they] have to say is significant, others hear and are affected.”
That's great. It's really true too.

If a creator has a large enough body of work, you can see a repeating theme or question in their work. Most authors and artists have a driving thought that they explore again and again from different angles. They themselves may not even be aware of it. I forget who it was, but I read an article about an author once who stated his "theme" had suddenly become apparent to him late in his career when a fan asked him about it. He had protested that, no, not all of his books explored that theme. But the fan pointed out to him again and again how they did. The author theorized that every writer had ONE burning message to the world, and every story was an attempt to perfect that same message.

As to the question of cruel twist endings, I think warning a player or reader of such a thing isn't desirable. But, I think foreshadowing can be used quite well in these cases to create tension in the reader without giving anything away. If a cruel twist ending is properly setup, and doesn't come from left field (only SEEMS to), I like them just fine.

For example: (Game of Thrones spoiler warning if you aren't caught up with the TV show)
The Red Wedding was amazingly done, BECAUSE the writers put us perfectly in the characters' shoes. They immediately made sure we were suspicious and cautious of the Frey clan, right along with the Starks. We suspected he was still angry and would do something horrible. Then, after pointing to the giant Chekov gun sitting in front of us, they systematically relaxed us and assuaged our fears, just as Walter Frey did to the Starks. We were shown him getting his seeming revenge by forcing Robb Stark to humiliate himself with apologies, and rubbing his face in what he could have had if only he'd kept his word. Just like the Starks, the audience now thinks the scales have been leveled.

The wedding is great and funny, while the writers sprinkle in just enough things to make us suspicious for a second, but then make us quickly forget or feel foolish for reading too much into things. The audience is masterfully moved into the exact mindset of our principal characters. The timing and framing of shots is perfect - the big reveal is that the Frey men are wearing armor underneath their wedding clothes.

We are allowed just a second to process the meaning of this, (but the writers made absolutely sure we had that moment to make connections) and as the audience's eyes go wide with the horror of the realization, the trap is sprung. The audience (as evidenced by numerous Youtube reaction videos) cries out a warning at the same time as the character on screen, but it is too late.
If an ending is properly setup and earned, no one should need a warning. The "warning" an audience will get if everything is properly done is a little ball of worry in their gut that something bad is about to happen, but they don't know what it will be. If they want to bow out before that something manifests itself, they can, but an author would destroy all suspense if he or she pointed to the escape hatch themselves.

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Re: Opinions on warning for cruel twist ending?

#29 Post by Trixar_za » Mon Oct 07, 2013 12:14 pm

I'll be honest and say I hate downer endings unless it's the point of the story. I recently read a pretty funny book, so I preceded to read the second and third one too. The third one ended in the manner that I've come to call the "Ender Ending", which is basically the author totures the main character for fun. It also doesn't fit the continuety of the story. If you have happy or adventurious story and end it by killing the main character horribly, then it's an Ender Ending. If you have a sad story with the best friend of main character passing away quickly, it's a GOOD downer ending. Using the Ender Ending tells me a few things about the author: He/She has lost interest in it and now wants to kill it off, so they piss everybody off by making the main character's life absolute hell.
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Re: Opinions on warning for cruel twist ending?

#30 Post by trooper6 » Mon Oct 07, 2013 2:27 pm

@Trixar_za, you hate downer endings (unless it's the point of the story)...and I hate Hollywood endings (unless its the point of the story). I find unearned happy endings insulting and irritating.

But...I also know that that is my aesthetic preference. I am not going to assume the author is stupid or shallow or pandering or whatever because they created a happy ending. Just as you shouldn't assume that the author has lost interest in a project or piss everybody off willy-nilly.

People have different ideas about the function of art in people's lives. People have different ideas about what makes a good story. About what is romantic. About what is fair. Heck, even about the nature of the relationship between author and reader.

Because of this, I don't assume malice on the part of the writer if their taste differs from mine. There are adult people who really like Disney. I don't get it. But then, I recognize that Disney films aren't made for me...and they don't have to be.
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