Do you feel cheated if choices do not affect the ending?

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Do you feel cheated if choices do not affect the ending?

#1 Post by Kjata » Wed Oct 16, 2013 8:16 pm

In the game I am currently working on, the player will make a large number of choices throughout the game. The choices the player makes will cause them to experience vastly different stories. However, by the end all plot will converge and you will experience the same ending regardless. However, the choices you have made will allow you to interpret the ending in different ways. The reason for doing this is that I would ideally like my game to part of a series and having one ending will allow for greater continuity.

My question is, as a player, would you find this irritating? Suppose you complete the game, decide to play it again and make totally different choices, but the ending to the game is the same as your original playthrough, would you feel cheated? (Despite the fact that the plot of the story you experienced was completely different).

I realise this is a subjective question but I would like to take into consideration peoples opions before I go ahead with my current plot. Are multiple endings an integral part of the visual novel experience for you?

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Re: Do you feel cheated if choices do not affect the ending?

#2 Post by trooper6 » Wed Oct 16, 2013 8:24 pm

I'd be fine with it as long as there weren't false or misleading advertising.
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Re: Do you feel cheated if choices do not affect the ending?

#3 Post by SundownKid » Wed Oct 16, 2013 8:57 pm

I feel same as was stated above. If the game says that your choices will change the ending, I will feel betrayed if they do not. *coughmasseffectcough*. If the game doesn't make those claims, I won't mind.

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Re: Do you feel cheated if choices do not affect the ending?

#4 Post by trooper6 » Wed Oct 16, 2013 10:36 pm

Note: I actually loved the ending of Mass Effect (as did my best buddy), so I may not be your average gamer. Every time I talk to someone different about the end of Mass Effect, I get such a strong feeling that Bioware crafted something amazingly personalized. My buddy and I got the "green" ending, felt that was the best ending one could have and loved it. Yesterday, I was talking to one of my grad students who got the "red" ending, thought that was the only possible good ending, and still wasn't happy. I couldn't ever imagine red being positive for the journey my Shepherd had.

I read this great article about all the ways that ME3 ended up being different based on player choices...the differences were pretty radical. But I suppose they just wrote everything so seamlessly and subtly without making it so obvious and immediate that the differences were missed by a lot of folks.

I think Cinders got around this "problem" by having a symbol show up in the corner of the screen every time the experience changed based on previous choices made. While I'm happy with non-immediate or subtle choices...and I'm happy with the idea of choices that change a player's perception or perspective or experience of the story more than they change the "plot," I know that many people want things more...direct.

Which is why I think you have to create for yourself as opposed to trying to second guess an audience. I feel like you make a game you can stand by...and maybe that will coincide with what a large mass of people will like. But I also think it is okay if you do the game that you stand by and it appeals to a smaller audience. Cave Cave Deus Videt is going to appeal to a niche audience, but I love it. I think it is amazing and will stay with me longer than many other conventional high school otome games made to appeal to the largest number of VN fans.

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Re: Do you feel cheated if choices do not affect the ending?

#5 Post by papillon » Wed Oct 16, 2013 11:00 pm

It's risky to have choices and still 'railroad' the player into the same outcome. It can be done, of course, but depending on what that ending is, it's very likely that people will feel upset if they came into the experience wanting to make a difference and feel like you're constantly blocking them. Managing expectations helps, of course. So do the details of how, exactly, the ending is "the same".

Say you're writing a romance between two high-schoolers, and at the end they break up and go off to different colleges, so that in the next game the protagonist is single and making only nostalgic references to the love left behind. It's possible to have many 'different' endings that all achieve the same result and keep those basic facts straight for the next story. Maybe you mutually agreed to end it. Maybe one of you got suspicious and jealous that the other would cheat while away and it turned into a huge fight. Maybe one of you begged the other to change schools so you could stay together, and that wasn't possible, and led to hurt feelings. All sorts of options that could change based on the way the game was played, without actually mattering in the next game - and these are probably less likely to cause the reader to hate you than if, no matter how the relationship was going, your partner suddenly dumps you at the end with the same canned speech.

Are the ending facts something that the player would have been likely *trying* to change during the course of the game? If so, then you're going to need to sell the reader on the thematic inevitability of your ending.

Some games doing series just declare one of the endings to be canon and make you go on from that point if you want to play the next game. That way you can still HAVE the ending where you decided to become evil and join the army of doom, even though the next story won't start from there.

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Re: Do you feel cheated if choices do not affect the ending?

#6 Post by Sharm » Thu Oct 17, 2013 2:32 pm

I feel cheated if my choices don't effect anything at all, but that change doesn't have to be with the end. It can be right after the choice or with a dialogue change a few scenes later or whatever, just something that makes it clear that the choice I made did something. I prefer endings to be different, but those differences don't have to be huge, they just have to make sense. I've played games where you pick a guy and all the ends were the same but with a different face depending on the path and that was awful. I've played them where the ending was so different for each path that it felt like I wasn't even playing the same game as the other paths, and that felt wrong too. If your ending fits all paths then you shouldn't force it to be different just for the sake of having multiple endings.
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Re: Do you feel cheated if choices do not affect the ending?

#7 Post by TrickWithAKnife » Fri Oct 18, 2013 8:59 am

Do you feel cheated if choices do not affect the ending?
Yes.

But what you (Kjata) were talking about is different. You are talking about different journeys to reach the same destination. In that case, I wouldn't feel cheated at all, and in some ways I think it's far more rewarding than tacking on a different ending CG.
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Re: Do you feel cheated if choices do not affect the ending?

#8 Post by cesullivan » Sat Oct 19, 2013 2:23 pm

I'm intending for the game I'm working on to be at least a two parter too, so I understand where you're coming from. I think the way you're planning on doing it can definitely work, and that might be the best solution for the story you're telling. However, if you want to have multiple endings, there are ways of doing that too.

With my game, I've got three endings planned, which depend on which character you're "closest to" by the end of the game (the game isn't really a dating sim, but it does have a system for keeping track of relationships). My plan is to just leave a time gap between the end of the first game and the beginning of the second game, and never fully explain what happens in that gap. Since my main characters are high school students...well, lots of things can happen to affect your relationships in high school, right?
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Re: Do you feel cheated if choices do not affect the ending?

#9 Post by Jo'ogn » Sun Oct 27, 2013 9:31 am

As others said before, to me it also depends on the expectations you raise.

I have seen quite a number of triple AAA games, "Mass Effect" included, which failed miserably with their "ending(s)" or so-called 'choices that make a huge difference'. Those are outright marketing lies.

On a side note: If you feel green is different to red or blue... well, to me that's just a developer team that got stranded on ideas or budget somewhere midway development or they never really knew where to go with this whole morphing from a Star Wars (kotor) license to a "Babylon 5" clone to begin with. (apart from that it did feel like a better game in comparison)

Another big let-down was "Deus Ex3". Where the player is tunnelled in the end, into a room where he may press 1 of 4 buttons o_0; (Well to be fair, you might end up with less buttons, if you chose to not check on everyone in the end, but that's not really a 'different ending' in my understanding of extra-ordinary game design).

Doing several endings and then dismissing all the others for one as 'canon' is not really satisfactory either. I believe this happens mostly because developers do not take a sequel into consideration. It wasn't even planned. It likely 'just happened', because the brand was a success and so it's picked up again.


But then creating content for choice is time and resource intensive.

If you are already taking a sequel into consideration, you could implement taking over variables - similar to "Mass Effect".

Maybe over the sequels you make the choices do make a real difference in the end?
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Re: Do you feel cheated if choices do not affect the ending?

#10 Post by Destiny » Sun Oct 27, 2013 5:20 pm

About the canon ending topic from Jo'ohn:
I have full understanding for the creator to decide for a main ending or canon ending, but offering different versions.
Also when the canon ending is maybe one of those that you dislike the most.

The Fatal Frame franchise played that very well
In FF1, the canon ending is that you get out, but that your brother sacrifices himself to ensure the curse to stay broken permanently, leaving him "dead". But you are offered a ending with him going with you and a secret character (the antagonists lover) taking his guardian spot, thus him surviving.
In FF2, the canon ending is with the main character killing her twin sister. It offers a Game Over ending with the main character simply running away from everything, leaving her sister behind. It also offers endings where you don't kill your twin sister but become blind because of the unsolved curse. And the perfect (but uncanon) ending with both you and your twin sister surviving AND the curse being still lifted.
And once you start FF3, you find out that the canon is indeed MC1 having lost her brother which traumatizes her (enough to become victim of the curse of FF3) and that MC2's twin sister has "disappeared in the woods", also making her victim to the new curse.
Honestly, I have no problem with how they chose the games to end officially. It fits into the idea and is necessary for the later games to work.
Some players might feel dissatisfied, but I don't think that a happy end automatically makes a good game.

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About the main topic:
Well, it depends.
If I feel that the moments where I am offered a choice are actually very important (kill all survivers or save them / tell about the poison in the water or protect girlfriend / etc), then yes, I would be very dissatisfied.
But if my choices are barely important (drink coffee or tea / go to party or to pool), then I don't exactly expect that much of a change (even though a lot of VNs actually make it so). You can of course play with those unimportant decisions and make hundrets of endings ("The Stanley Parable", anyone?), but I wouldn't be angry in that case. In some cases, the interesting thing is the journey, not the end.
If my character will die in five days and nothing in the game can change that, then why should I be angry that all my decisions can't change it? The satisfaction would be there or not be there, depending on if I made the last days of my character worth it. Had he/she a good time? Or was he/she depressed and suffering? One and the same ending can change extremely, based on what you experience during the play.
Just having a short ending where the player is informed that the MCs heart has stopped, he/she falls to the ground and everything went dark can have a bittersweet touch, if it happens after saying goodbye to all your friends after a wonderful day at the beach with music and wishing for the world to never stop turning. The very same ending without even a change in dialogue will be horribly sad, if the character had locked himself up in his house, drank so much alcohol that he might have poisoned himself anyway and resumes that he was alone his whole life and thus will also die alone.

A decision can change a end. You just need to be willing to see the difference.
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Re: Do you feel cheated if choices do not affect the ending?

#11 Post by fullmontis » Tue Nov 05, 2013 4:44 am

I kinda feel, yes. I remember in The Walking Dead me and my girlfriend had to make a few "tought" decision (like save this or that character) just to discover after ending the game that they wouldn't have changed what would have happened, only how other characters feel towards you. I didn't like it, but I guess multiple routes in a full 3d route like TWD would have been too pricey to make.
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Re: Do you feel cheated if choices do not affect the ending?

#12 Post by Crenshaw6 » Tue Nov 05, 2013 8:10 am

I suppose there could be slight variations of an ending that are triggered by that path - a reference thrown in something, a slightly different lesson learnt...etc. So a broad set ending with different comments and interaction dispersed in certain locations, triggered by set choices made previously, depending on the path you take...sorry, I really don't know how to word this. Of course, this is based on my very literal understanding of your 'same ending'.

In general, I don't think I would mind too much, because I enjoy the 'scenery' each path takes me on. Even if the destination is the same.

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Re: Do you feel cheated if choices do not affect the ending?

#13 Post by Llunet1 » Tue Nov 05, 2013 9:33 pm

Mmm...
I wouldn't mind if there was more than one ending... Like... if there were a bunch of choices throughout the game... but there are let's say 3 endings (which is pretty small I guess), I wouldn't mind! :)
Because I LOOOVE choices throughout a game :) Even if it doesn't affect much, I want to be able to play the game for the 5th time and still have different dialogue with the other characters :) (Which is crazy, but I'm actually trying to do that with my game)

Hope that answers your question?

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