True endings and their influence on narrative

Questions, skill improvement, and respectful critique involving game writing.
Message
Author
User avatar
HopefulRomantic
Newbie
Posts: 23
Joined: Fri Oct 09, 2015 12:33 am
Tumblr: hopefulromanticwriter
Contact:

Re: True endings and their influence on narrative

#31 Post by HopefulRomantic » Thu Oct 15, 2015 4:44 pm

Kailoto wrote: In my personal opinion, I find they limit the freedom of the story, because the other good endings are somewhat diminished by the fact that there's a "best" end. Other arcs may be less involved as a result, and even if the player has made choices that they are completely satisfied with and has pursued an ending they find most appealing, the author has essentially dismissed it as a mere what-if scenario, and the player may not receive full validation. And part of the power of stories with multiple "good" endings is that they allow for player agency - choices that really are choices, not choices that are actually problems with optimal solutions.
I had to quote the original post because I agree so much. Oh my gosh, yes! "And part of the power of stories with multiple "good" endings is that they allow for player agency - choices that really are choices, not choices that are actually problems with optimal solutions." #Truth

User avatar
Keryee
Regular
Posts: 25
Joined: Wed Jun 03, 2015 12:14 pm
Location: Hong Kong
Contact:

Re: True endings and their influence on narrative

#32 Post by Keryee » Mon Nov 09, 2015 1:39 pm

I honestly think it depends on the execution.

For example, a true ending is often necessary if you want to write a sequel that's not incredibly vague about the events of the previous game. In this game, the true ending is the most canonical outcome, and probably the most neutral. That doesn't necessarily mean that the true ending is more rewarding than any of the other endings... it's just the ending that is necessary to make the sequel possible. The SMT Devil Survivor games come to mind, I think.

When your true ending is "true" in the sense that it's more rewarding/happy than the other paths, however, that's when you start to have difficulties. For example, when the "true ending" centers around the author's preferred character, then players who like that character less end up not enjoying the true ending as much. And that's where cries of "INJUSTICE!!!" start getting thrown around. However, if the true ending is simply more canonical or reveals a deeper layer to the story, then I think the label of "true ending" is perhaps justified.

In other cases, however, it might just be easier to just give all routes equal weight. More player agency, y'know?

tl;dr I think true endings are only really necessary if you want to write a sequel, or if they're intended to give the story more depth.

User avatar
xelestial
Regular
Posts: 41
Joined: Mon Aug 17, 2015 11:59 am
Completed: Mystic Destinies: Serendipity of Aeons, To the Edge of the Sky
Projects: Mystic Destinies: Echoes
Organization: Aeon Dream Studios
Location: United States
Contact:

Re: True endings and their influence on narrative

#33 Post by xelestial » Sat Nov 21, 2015 11:03 am

Kailoto wrote:This one is less of a rant and more of a straight-out question than my previous topics. It concerns, as you have likely gleaned from the title, the nature of true endings, especially in visual novels.

As we all know, most sorts of interactive fiction have multiple endings. VNs do this, as do most games with branching storylines. Let's ignore how you get to those endings for the moment, and just assume that they exist, and there are more than one of them. Maybe some are bad. Maybe there is a single good ending and the rest are bad. But what if there were multiple good endings... and one of them was better than the rest?

[insert conspiracy keanu meme here]

That's the idea behind a true end: there's other "good" ends to the story, but there is a single end that is either more rewarding (in the sense of a happier ending or something similar) and/or canonical to the timeline. And to be clear, the dichotomy of good and bad endings isn't a necessity; the important part is that either the author acknowledges that the story has a true ending, or writes the story in a way so that one end is superior to the rest.

The question, then, is this: What do true endings add and subtract from an otherwise homogeneous set of endings, and does that result in a net positive or a net negative effect? Or in more relatable terms, are true endings good or bad, and why?

In my personal opinion, I find they limit the freedom of the story, because the other good endings are somewhat diminished by the fact that there's a "best" end. Other arcs may be less involved as a result, and even if the player has made choices that they are completely satisfied with and has pursued an ending they find most appealing, the author has essentially dismissed it as a mere what-if scenario, and the player may not receive full validation. And part of the power of stories with multiple "good" endings is that they allow for player agency - choices that really are choices, not choices that are actually problems with optimal solutions.

But at the same time, I can't seem to find anything inherently wrong with true ends; other arcs being diminished isn't necessarily a bad thing if the author owns it, and not every VN has to fully demonstrate player agency and consequence. There's also part of me, maybe the more gameplay-oriented part, that likes the idea of a true end being a reward for playing a game to its completion, since it serves as a story-based incentive to explore alternate paths, rather than just a completionist one, although that really depends on the story being compelling enough to drive it.

So on the whole, there's aspects of it I don't like, but I've never begrudged a game for having one, and I might even use one myself if it ever felt right. What about all of you? Do you hate them? Like them? I'm expecting this one to be more varied than the previous, but perhaps you'll all surprise me.
Super well articulated. Exactly my feelings on the subject (well it probably also helps that I love Minato too).

On one hand, since I'm a gamer too, I love to find the best endings if they're hard to get like Idea Factory. They made their best endings very very hard to get and the bad endings are all interesting and add a distinct level of terror for me, since they're fairly immediate after you make the wrong decision. I think they do "true" endings right.

However, if people have the time and resources to pull it off, I love it when you can have all canon endings. This is what we're planning to do with our game, have all three endings be canon if we can narratively pull it off. This is because people love to see that their choices made a meaningful contribution and it increases replay value genuinely unlike like the sort of cheap replay value of true endings.

I think either one is acceptable because they both have pros and cons, though multiple canon endings is the most impressive to pull off. The really important thing is pulling off whatever way you go well.
Image
Mystic Destinies: Serendipity of Aeons, an urban fantasy otome visual novel.
Website| Twitter| Facebook| Patreon

SamanthaSmith
Newbie
Posts: 1
Joined: Mon Apr 11, 2016 10:33 am
Contact:

Re: True endings and their influence on narrative

#34 Post by SamanthaSmith » Mon Apr 11, 2016 10:37 am

It is important to provide only relevant information on the issue! Thanks for doing that! https://essay-academy.com/admission-essays.php

User avatar
isak grozny
Regular
Posts: 46
Joined: Mon Apr 11, 2016 10:17 am
Projects: The Bitter Drop [Modern Fantasy][Gay Romance][BxB]
itch: grrozny
Location: Edinburgh, UK
Contact:

Re: True endings and their influence on narrative

#35 Post by isak grozny » Mon Apr 11, 2016 6:47 pm

I'm of two minds about this, because on the one hand I like the VN "thing" of make-your-own-ending but on the other hand, I want to write sequels to my games if I get a decent enough idea.

I mean, I guess I could write a sequel for each of the "major" endings, but I'm not sure a fractal narrative is the solution here.

User avatar
MoonByte
Regular
Posts: 150
Joined: Thu Mar 24, 2016 9:18 pm
Completed: Shine (RPG Maker), Heroes (RPG Maker), Lantern Bearer (RPG Maker), Loop the Loop (Unity), Other Stars (Unreal), Sky Eye (RPG Maker), WIN Delivery & Fateful (Ren'Py)
Projects: Weird Is Normal (Ren'Py)
Location: Germany
Contact:

Re: True endings and their influence on narrative

#36 Post by MoonByte » Tue Apr 12, 2016 2:36 am

I'd say, it could be a matter of definition.

For me, the "True end" isn't the "best end", but the canon one. The one that the creator sees as correct.
Fatal Frame 2 has a good end that you can get by playing the XBOX variant on Hard. But it's not the TRUE end as Fatal Frame 3 proved.

I think, what you mean is the so-called "Golden Ending".
"True Ending" is the REAL ending, the one that - all infinite possibilities the MC may or may not take aside - destiny had chosen for them that was ultimately the only actual ending that is canon.
A "Golden Ending" doesn't have to be canon, but it is the "best" ending as in "everyone is happy, everything gets solved".

A true ending usually always works. The player after all has to accept that this is the way the creator wants to have the story go. If the MC dies and everyone lives on with an unknown threat on the horizon and calls it true, then the player will have to live with that knowledge. But the very same game can also have a golden ending where everyone survives, that threat is defeated in an epic battle and they all live to see another beautiful day. It will probably give the player more satisfaction to achieve this and the creator grants them that satisfaction despite hinting that it is NOT how the story REALLY goes.

And what does it give or take from other endings...?
Well, if there is a true ending, then it of course somewhat negates all other endings.
You got together with Sarah and the MC and her have a child? Aw, so adorable, love it! Too bad that the true ending suggests that Melissa is the true love and that Sarah is getting together with Peter.
It can disappoint a player to know that their canon isn't the one of the creator and the game.
Then again, a few dating sims don't have a "True Ending". Or they have one for each possible love interest, suggesting that they are all legit, IF the MC WOULD flirt with that person.

A Golden Ending is usually something for games that don't have love interests (OR only one). They are also usually very great, because a Golden Ending often happens in a game where every ending except this is bittersweet or downright depressing. The player WANTS the Golden Ending, they DESERVE it, they worked SO HARD to make the MC happy and survive!
And then they get it and all the struggles were worth it.
Knowing that there is a Golden Ending also doesn't take anything from the other endings in this case. They are bad, depressing, yes.
BUT they are this BECAUSE you know you could have done better. You are aware that the MC would have survived, if you wouldn't have looked into that well. That the cool guy with the sword didn't have to kill you, if you hadn't decided to hug that ghost and get possessed. That the MC and their childhood romance wouldn't have to split without ever seeing each other again, if you hadn't decided to just leave the haunted house with things unresolved.
Having a golden ending in the game and getting something else intensifies the bad endings, it makes you hate yourself and try better.


Splendid use of endings would be "Mogeko Castle" (which has a great example of the "True Ending" not necessarily being the "best ending") and "Forest of Drizzling Rain" (which has great endings, but where the hard earned "Golden Ending" makes you feel so warm and fuzzy inside). A interesting case is Undertale which is MISSING a "True Ending", but offers a "Golden Ending", though hinting throughout that it may or may not be REAL.
In general, looking for the TV Trope page for "Golden Ending" will give a good deal of examples of what the creator gives the player.


All this is of course up to debate and how you feel about any ending but the True/Golden Ending depends also on how well written the other endings are. I've seen games where it is very obvious that the creator was like "Well, need to have SOME bad endings" and just smeared something. I have no problem with bad endings (I actually always go for them first since I want to gradually feel better with every ending I get), but some are obviously just there because. And if you feel like adding a bad ending, simply to have one, then sorry, but better make something linear with only one ending as long as that is well-written. I can live with my choices not having an impact on a game, but I hate to work through a game, only to get the "Suddenly a plant came through the window, ate you, THE END".

User avatar
Lodratio
Regular
Posts: 45
Joined: Wed Feb 24, 2016 7:22 pm
Projects: S P H I N X
Contact:

Re: True endings and their influence on narrative

#37 Post by Lodratio » Tue Apr 12, 2016 1:25 pm

Complaints about true endings mostly pop up when it comes to romance. People get really upset when their favourite pairing isn't as canon as they'd like it to be~.
I agree with Moonbyte, in that there's usually no reason not to have a true ending. In reality, we experience life as one true path and a lot of 'could have beens' and 'what ifs', and a story should reflect that unless it has a good reason not to.
That aside, whether a true ending really adds something to a story depends on whether the author builds up to it being the true conclusion, meaning that it ties the other routes together into a single story and/or brings about some kind of irreversible change (maybe the story up to that point took place in a timeloop, and the true ending ends it for good, maybe the mysteries from the other routes are cleared up, maybe the mcs characterarc is only really completed in the true route).

User avatar
MoonByte
Regular
Posts: 150
Joined: Thu Mar 24, 2016 9:18 pm
Completed: Shine (RPG Maker), Heroes (RPG Maker), Lantern Bearer (RPG Maker), Loop the Loop (Unity), Other Stars (Unreal), Sky Eye (RPG Maker), WIN Delivery & Fateful (Ren'Py)
Projects: Weird Is Normal (Ren'Py)
Location: Germany
Contact:

Re: True endings and their influence on narrative

#38 Post by MoonByte » Tue Apr 12, 2016 1:39 pm

Maybe as a small addition, but some games have a true ending without pushing it in the players nose.
Think of Book Ends.
The game starts with the character staring out of the window and remembering what then is the play. All endings lead somewhere, but only ONE ends exactly at that window. Even if the game doesn't spell it out, the player will instantly know that this is the ending that is actually real.
Linear games often do it to show you arrived at the end (like The Longest Journey: Dreamfall), though it can be used with games with multiple endings as well (again Mogeko Castle).
Of course, a creator can also spoof this and fool the player by using it and INVERTING it. The player arrives at the window, thinks everything is solved and then a screen tells them "End Prologue" or "Chapter 2: A New Beginning", showing that this wasn't the end of the GAME.
Or even show no screen and just continue without a comment, such as in the movie "The emperors new groove".

If aware of cliches and tropes, then something as "boring" as a good or bad ending, a true or golden ending can become an incredibly powerful tool for storytelling. Same with beginnings. Same with every part of narration. No matter if following along as normal, playing with them or going exactly against the norm. If done smartly, they can all become a very incredible experience for the player.
Being aware of stereotypes, what they cause and how to make them work FOR you will usually always increase your games worth as it keeps things interesting.

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users