Carassaurat wrote:The issue I have with such a structure is that the writer seems to be saying "Hey, I want you to know that you should stick to your dreams no matter what, even when things are looking tough; but if that isn't what you want to hear, I'm also willing to hold the opinion that you should look into other dreams if the situation is difficult."
That would depend on how it's written; I don't see a contradictory message in having a path where she enjoys doing what she set out to do and another path where she actually finds she succeed at and enjoy something else. Both happen all the time in real life. As long as the first path doesn't have some sort of worship of the idea of "you need to follow your dreams to be happy" with the cliched assumption that people always KNOW what would make them happy, then there is no inconsistency.
But that's a little bit beside the point. If your goal is to convey a message, then I do agree it needs to be clear. If your goal is to entertain, however, then other considerations trump that. Just like every other part of the writing, the choices in a VN should have a reason for being there. If the consequence of a choice is just "Oops, you lose," that's boring. That is not storytelling. I do think it's possible to have "good" bad endings -- ones where you learn something new about the character, or you "lose" in an interesting way, or a part of the story is revealed in that ending, or it shows everything from a different angle. (Or maybe the VN is a tragedy and all the ends are bad, hahaha! But entertaining for the same reason the rest of the tragic story was.)
I think there are a lot of cases when a writer has one plot resolution in mind, and so a branch may end up a "bad ending" by default -- in which case, it's easy to fall into the "you lose" trap. Instead, the writer should think of ways that branch could be used to support the story, and it doesn't have to be a "bad ending," just something that happens differently. Maybe a character who is struggling with college decides to drop out. Then what? "The end"? If I'm invested in the story I want to know what happens to them! I mean, a person who dropped out of college doesn't just disappear into the void. They have to do something with their life. Maybe they go get a job, or they go leech off their parents. Maybe they start their own business. Maybe it was the best decision in their lives because they save themselves from crippling debt with high interest student loans, or it gives them a chance to mature a little, find out what they really want, and avoid wasting time/money/effort on something else. Maybe it was the worst decision because they can only get jobs they are miserable at and they go on to commit suicide. Regardless, there is a story to be told.
Even if the writer is desperately trying to convey the message that dropping out of college is bad doesn't mean they can't have the character eventually go on to be a success... they can show how much harder the character has to struggle on that path. This, then, strengthens their message instead of weakening it by just ending things suddenly there. (Writer: "They lived unhappily ever after." The player: "Yeah, right. Why would that happen?" Writer: "Because I said so!")