'True' endings

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Ametrya
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'True' endings

#1 Post by Ametrya » Mon Sep 13, 2010 5:43 pm

Something that I really liked about RE:Alistair was the lack of a canon pairing for the protagonist.
Sure, Derek was Alistair, but the first guy that Merui meets is Travis..., except for the fact that her internet friend since before the story was Shiro
But most games with multiple endings tend to include an ending which solves most of the problems and makes many characters happy, and then call it 'True ending', which at least for me, kind of kills the idea behind being able to choose your own story.

One of the games where this was really severe was Date Warp
Only the true ending actually solves the mystery, and all the other ones involved someone's death
I wonder what's your opinion about this? Personally I think that it would be nicer to see more games that actually grant that freedom to choose how will you solve the problems that caused the plot, and who will be the protagonist's love interest when it applies. In fact the whole 'bad/good/true' ending is pretty limiting for certain stories.

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Re: 'True' endings

#3 Post by papillon » Mon Sep 13, 2010 6:48 pm

It depends on the story and the focus of the story. A pure dating sim, IMO, shouldn't have a "true" ending.

However, in games with more involved plots, it's extremely impractical to make all endings 'equal'. If by the end of the game absolutely every character is happy and in love and rich and successful no matter what the player does, you haven't actually played a game because nothing you did mattered.

In most games, each character has their own secrets and their own problems. If you play one character's path, you can't deal with the problems of the other characters. Some people found Yume Miru Kusuri quite depressing because of this. You can help ONE of the girls, but doesn't that mean the others are doomed? So some people have protested that there SHOULD be a "true" path unlockable that lets you save all of them, even if that means not dating any of them.

Some games intentionally don't declare any outcome the 'true' ending, but fans will tend to pick and choose what they think are the best/happiest outcomes and declare them to be the True ending anyway.

If there is a central mystery, it's possible to make it solvable on every character path, but if it's the same solution every time that's likely to become repetitive and boring. Some games have the same mystery but the actual solution changes depending on which path you're on, so if you're pursuing Bob then Chris is the murderer, but if you're pursuing Chris then Bob is the murderer, and so on. That can be really confusing, though, because it means the characters are inconsistent from game to game. Other games are set up so that there is NO real solution, and every ending only touches on a facet of the mystery, leaving the player to try and put the pieces together outside the game. (This was, actually, the original Date Warp plan early in development. But it was likely that players would find it too depressing.)

(And I'd encourage you to go to the specific DW thread or forum to debate how the endings turned out and why they turned out that way, because I'd love to see more discussion on the subject, but I don't want to derail this conversation for it. :) )

On the other hand, the idea of being able to solve the central problem in multiple ways and with whatever love interest you want does steer closer to some Western RPGs like, say, Dragon Age. (Even in Dragon Age you are going to have to make some tough choices... there are likely to be some downsides to every outcome.) Repetition is slightly less of a problem because there's other gameplay, so it's not just reading the same text over and over as you deal with the central issues with a different party member in tow, and suffficient OTHER choices to make that you can have some very different playthroughs instead of just doing the same thing with a different love interest.

The downside to having the romances set up in that fashion, a plot sidebranch where you can choose which you want or take none at all, is that the romance itself by necessity becomes more shallow and less involved with the story.

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Re: 'True' endings

#4 Post by Ametrya » Mon Sep 13, 2010 7:32 pm

papillon wrote:However, in games with more involved plots, it's extremely impractical to make all endings 'equal'. If by the end of the game absolutely every character is happy and in love and rich and successful no matter what the player does, you haven't actually played a game because nothing you did mattered.
I don't agree with this. Even in 'true' endings, not all the characters get happy endings for themselves and every problem is solved.
For example, there could be a game where you can choose to support group A, group B, or group C, and the groups you don't choose end being destroyed. Of course, if you make the wrong choices, you could get bad endings for all groups. Or there could be a chance of making your own group with people from A, B and C, but some of them won't join you and will die in the ending. Or you could choose to sacrifice your own group to save the other two. The player's choice will depend mainly on which characters does he/she prefers. Or maybe, those groups have different beliefs, so they'll try achieving the same things in different ways, then the player will prefer the group whose ideas seem more interesting.

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Re: 'True' endings

#5 Post by papillon » Mon Sep 13, 2010 7:43 pm

But that agrees exactly with what I said, because you're describing endings that are very much NOT perfectly equal. Some of those endings are distinctly 'better' than others, by various standards.

If there are groups A, B, and C, and you can only save one no matter what, the endings are equal but some players will be upset that there is no "good" solution.

If there are groups A, B, and C, and in some endings you can only save one but in other endings you can save two or more groups, the endings are not equal, and some players are likely to declare that the ending which saves the most people is the "true" ending even if there is no true ending officially.

If there are groups A, B, and C, and it looks like you can only save one but magically they're all saved in every ending, those endings are equal but that's probably a boring game.

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Re: 'True' endings

#6 Post by Ametrya » Mon Sep 13, 2010 8:00 pm

But that depends on what the player prefer or considers better. If two groups are saved but the protagonist dies, or something equally bad happens, players may prefer to only save their favorite group. After all, in all endings some people are goint to die or end unhappy.
It could be related to the old typical dilemma of sacrificing one innocent person to save many. The overall balance has to be positive for the player to feel that they've achieved something, but that doesn't means that negative stuff can't happen. In fact, in many games with only one ending, there are characters that die or sacrifice themselves, in order to help the protagonist achieve their goal.
So in non linear games, it would be a perfectly valid choice to help those characters instead, with the player deciding that they're more important.

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Re: 'True' endings

#7 Post by papillon » Mon Sep 13, 2010 8:43 pm

Even in games with an official true ending, many players will choose to prefer one of the other endings. The existence of a designated true ending doesn't necessarily stop people from choosing to declare some other ending THEIR true ending. (Or declaring some nonexistent ending to be their true ending and going off to write fanfic. :) )


I have had my own frustrations with some games with 'true' endings. It's irritating when the big triumphant moment of the game, finally completed, with all the fanfare... isn't actually the outcome you wanted. (Bible Black and Aoi Shiro, for different reasons, both got a bit of grumbling out of me at the grand finale.)

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Re: 'True' endings

#8 Post by Ametrya » Mon Sep 13, 2010 8:52 pm

Even in games with an official true ending, many players will choose to prefer one of the other endings. The existence of a designated true ending doesn't necessarily stop people from choosing to declare some other ending THEIR true ending. (Or declaring some nonexistent ending to be their true ending and going off to write fanfic. :) )
Which is practically the same as having no true ending at all (in fact, having no true ending may make fans fight less with each other :lol: )

And well, in the games where none of the endings is satisfying enough for many players, then that's an obvious design problem (of course, some endings are supposed to be sad, and are still awesome).

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Re: 'True' endings

#9 Post by \Nish/ » Mon Sep 13, 2010 10:39 pm

That's an interesting question, since I was thinking about it and how it correlates with my game as well.

I've always thought that a "true end" isn't necessary a solution to solve all problems, but a view to the bigger picture. You can still choose your own adventure and romance, but in this "true" route it helps you see the whole story better. But I guess that will go back to the fact of unsatisfactory true ends and such you were talking about...how about something like an epilogue with every character? If every character has an epilogue, then that will make the endings more sufficient, in a way, even if it's not the ending that solves everything. In which the sufficiency can also make every endings feel more "true" to the player, in a sense.

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Re: 'True' endings

#10 Post by kinougames » Mon Sep 13, 2010 11:53 pm

I've never heard of the "true" ending as the ending in which everyone is happy. I've heard of "true" endings as the ending that is considered "true canon", or answers the loose ends that come up in other endings.

The fact is, endings and how they're enjoyed is a matter of opinion. I dislike heavy dating sim games because they often poof past an actual deep characterization so that the player can enjoy their dating fantasy. I love heavy plot games, but it's impossible for a heavy plot game with a larger amount of characters to have endings for each character that will satisfy every fan.

It really depends on what you want. If you want more options, hit more dating sims, but expect less plot/characterization. If you like plot, you should assume that the plot has a direction, and heavy characterization (due to mostly pre-set actions), but expect less actual input into the story direction. There's gonna be something sacrificed. =/
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Re: 'True' endings

#11 Post by Mikan » Tue Sep 14, 2010 10:04 am

I don't think a total, absolute disney-style happy ending for everyone is really worth the trouble. If anything it makes the story seem incredibly far fetched and unrealistic: it'll make your poor story seem extremely contrived. I don't think everyone needs to end happy for a story to be a success.

Some characters have flaws that are too great to change, or are simply static and cannot change.
It's the conflict with such stubborn characters that can make a plot interesting and worthwhile, assuming there's a character who's wiling to change going against the static one.

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Re: 'True' endings

#12 Post by LordShiranai » Tue Sep 14, 2010 11:07 am

Some times a true ending just fits, when it is done well.

Generally speaking however, forcing a true ending just for the sole sake of having one isn't necessary.
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Re: 'True' endings

#13 Post by Greeny » Wed Sep 15, 2010 9:23 am

I think that rather than decide on possible endings, and have the player get there, you should let the endings come naturally according to the player's choices. They won't be balanced, but that's the point: different choices give different results.
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Re: 'True' endings

#14 Post by neowired » Thu Sep 16, 2010 1:14 pm

I think to me a "true" ending is usually the one which explains most of the story. If none of them do then there is no true ending.

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Re: 'True' endings

#15 Post by Nanashiko » Thu Sep 16, 2010 3:53 pm

"True" Endings are a must for games with plot. They are the endings to me that explain everything about the story of the game and the character. It doesn't necessarily have to be a happy ending either. Though I think that's why it's called a true end, this is the only way you can go to figure out what is really going on with the plot. That's what chose your own story is about. You can either chose to go with your favorite character and remain every wondering about the plot or you can go with this one and figure out the story. It would be kind of silly if all the characters led to the same ending though and everything was explained by each path. That's just not how it always works out in life.

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