Multiple endings necessary and/or desirable?

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Lelah Conrad

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Mar 11, 1999, 3:00:00 AM3/11/99
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I'd like to know whether authors and players feel multiple
endings are necessary for the enjoyment of a game. I'm making
decisions about a work in progress. I'm not really referring to the
various "you have died" type messages along the way, but to more
well-fleshed out alternate story lines.

Do you like a game less if there is only one possible outcome?
Do you like it more if their are multiple possible outcomes? Or is
the answer again just "it depends"? If so, what does it depend on?

Lelah


Dan Shiovitz

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Mar 11, 1999, 3:00:00 AM3/11/99
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In article <36e75e5c...@news.nu-world.com>,

I think it's a mistake to think of outcomes as being separate or
exclusive. I can't imagine that any player, knowing a game has
multiple outcomes, is just going to play one and then
stop. Furthermore, it's important to remember then that their memories
of other endings they've gotten are going to influence any succeeding
ones they've seen. Someone pointed this out in a review of Muse -- I
don't remember which article it was but I'm sure it's on dejanews
someplace. Photopia's another obvious example where multiple endings
make, or would make, a difference.

There's also the issue of how much time you put into the different
endings. If there's a one-turn win at the beginning, regardless of how
good it is, people are going to underrate it compared to other endings
that take up more playtime (cf Change in the Weather, Bad Machine,
probably some others). So you may want to avoid putting in endings
that you can't develop fully, or at least think about how they're
going to be received.

Of course, as usual, what it comes down to is "do the right thing for
your particular situation."

>Lelah
--
Dan Shiovitz || d...@cs.wisc.edu || http://www.cs.wisc.edu/~dbs
"...Incensed by some crack he had made about modern enlightened
thought, modern enlightened thought being practically a personal buddy
of hers, Florence gave him the swift heave-ho and--much against my
will, but she seemed to wish it--became betrothed to me." - PGW, J.a.t.F.S.

Aris Katsaris

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Mar 11, 1999, 3:00:00 AM3/11/99
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Lelah Conrad wrote in message <36e75e5c...@news.nu-world.com>...

>
> Do you like a game less if there is only one possible outcome?
>Do you like it more if their are multiple possible outcomes?

Well, let me give you an example. In the last competition first place went
to Photopia and second place to the Muse (which by the way coincides with my
own votes). The first story has only one possible outcome, and would lose
greatly were it allowed to have more. The second story has many possible
outcomes and IMO would lose greatly if it only had one. So, it does depend.

>Or is
>the answer again just "it depends"? If so, what does it depend on?


On whether the multiple outcomes help the story; and/or give more freedom to
the player. But ofcourse more freedom doesn't always mean a better game.

Sorry for the unhelpful response.

Aris Katsaris

T Raymond

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Mar 12, 1999, 3:00:00 AM3/12/99
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In article <36e75e5c...@news.nu-world.com>, l...@nu-world.com (Lelah Conrad) admitted:

> I'd like to know whether authors and players feel multiple
>endings are necessary for the enjoyment of a game. I'm making
>decisions about a work in progress. I'm not really referring to the
>various "you have died" type messages along the way, but to more
>well-fleshed out alternate story lines.
>
> Do you like a game less if there is only one possible outcome?
>Do you like it more if their are multiple possible outcomes? Or is

>the answer again just "it depends"? If so, what does it depend on?
>
I'll aim for the 'it depends' answer. In general, I grew up with IF
that had one ending, but it held my attention, so I didn't care. So,
if it could hold my attention for enough, I'd be happy for another (or
several) endings to try and reach. Unfortunately for me, this means
there can't be horrendous puzzles because my mind just doesn't work
that well for them.

HTH

Tom

=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-
Tom Raymond adk @ usa.net
"All at once I knew that I knew nothing..."
-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=

Edan Harel

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Mar 12, 1999, 3:00:00 AM3/12/99
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Note, some spoilers for one of the many endings to Blade Runner below, though
with all those endings, it's fairly minor, imho.

l...@nu-world.com (Lelah Conrad) writes:

> I'd like to know whether authors and players feel multiple
>endings are necessary for the enjoyment of a game. I'm making
>decisions about a work in progress. I'm not really referring to the
>various "you have died" type messages along the way, but to more
>well-fleshed out alternate story lines.

> Do you like a game less if there is only one possible outcome?
>Do you like it more if their are multiple possible outcomes? Or is
>the answer again just "it depends"? If so, what does it depend on?

The main thing it depends on (for me) is whether I want to go through
and replay the game., keeping in mind that most games will offer you
the same thing with only a small number of differences. And usually the
differences are made at one point along the path, and you just have to
go back to that point and make the neccessary change (like reading all
the endings to CYOA books).

Plundered Hearts offered four different endings based on your last move.
Nice thought, but I just restored and replayed under all four ways and
thought: gee, one action determines the entire rest of my characters
life, huh (of course, one letter usually determines it.. Q :-))

Of course, with games where the branching is earlier (though the only
real differences are at the end) there are usually saved games available
for download so you can replay them all quickly (and maybe not have to
do the hundered specific-to-this-ending tasks to view it)

So multiple paths don't really offer much in the way of replayablity off
the bat. However, I do like the idea of multiple paths to make the
game more individualized to the person playing.

For instance, imagine another version of moonmist that requires you to
have someone working with you (perhaps there's a murderer, so you want to
keep in pairs, or something (hey, this is just off the top of my head)).
You might be able to change the person you work with (or have more than one).
you might also be able to interact with them on another emotional level (you
become friends, hate each other, etc). Then, towards the end of the
game, the person you spend the most amount of time with, or interacted
the best with (or some combination therein) would be kidnapped by
the murderer and need rescuing. Or killed by the murderer. Or
be the murderer.

This lets the person playing create a bond between themselves and whoever
that is less forced, and allows them to decide what kind of person they
want to work with in such a situation.

And maybe the actions you take or who you befriend will affect more than
a superficial change of who is what. For example, if you solve everything
by firing your phasers at anything that moves, you should be rewarded
(perhaps) by the same fate to yourself or your companion further down
the line. If you tend to solve this type of puzzle quicker then that
type, maybe the game should trigger a few more of those types of puzzles
(perhaps a bit harder) further down the game. Or perhaps the player
doesn't want problems that he can solve quickly, so you give him the
other types of problems (of course, it's always been my opinion that
harder puzzles don't make me enjoy a game, wheras interesting puzzles
do).

And of course, if yiou can see what kind of puzzles a player is adept at,
and trigger those puzzles to be on, then the game can also have more
control over the pace of the game.

And then there are those games without any real ending, but rather a
single ending that can just be different. For example, infocom's detective
trio would merely give you a certain amount of time to accomplish
the games tasks. And of course, you could win without neccisarily
finishing to do everything possible in the game, thus allowing for
replaying. Colonel's Bequest did something simmilar by allowing a
time frame wherein a lot of actions could be done, but doing a certain
(usually obvious) 3 tasks would allow the game to move on to the next
time frame, where different actions were possible.

I've probably gone off on a tangent. I tend to do that. Getting back
to the original question... Blade Runner, which had a bunch of
different endings, impressed me somewhat, though it had little to do
with the fact that there were multiple endings, but rather the (more than
usual) freedom the player was allowed. I could therefore make my character
join one side or the other, and in one game I played as one side, and then
"switched over to the other" by killing someone at the very end who was on the
other side, but staying with the other side. The game then (very crudely,
but still attempted) to compensate it by hinting that I had either been
undercover (and so had the other person), or that I had quickly changed
sides and covered up the fact by saying that it was the other person
who had done all of those things.

So you see, the middle or main portion of the game is as important if
not more important than the actual game, and I would prefer having
multiple ways to solve a puzzle, different ways to proceed in a subplot
(that dont even have to be puzzles... after all, if I befriend an npc
by talking to them nicely, I would consider that a subplot if they
relationship continues (and is shown) during the game), or even optional
subplots.

Edan


okbl...@usa.net

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Mar 12, 1999, 3:00:00 AM3/12/99
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In article <36e75e5c...@news.nu-world.com>,

l...@nu-world.com (Lelah Conrad) wrote:
>
> Do you like a game less if there is only one possible outcome?
> Do you like it more if their are multiple possible outcomes? Or is
> the answer again just "it depends"? If so, what does it depend on?
>

The short answer is: no. I was going to say that a wide variety of
interactivity within the game would compensate for only one possible outcome
(ruling out all death possibilities as actual outcomes) but "Photopia" is an
example of a game with minimal interactivity and only one outcome, and it's
done all right for itself. "Full Throttle" works, too, under similar
restraints. (I haven't played "Myst" yet, but it wouldn't surprise me if it
feel into the same category.)

Both these projects have considerable aesthetic merits. I would suggest that
the critical factor is that the player is allowed to contribute to the game
in ways other than altering the plot, i.e., through an emotional connection
which is initially created by the aesthetics of the work.

If it's just variety that you're concerned about, I would think that allowing
variation on the road to the single ending would be sufficient. The only
thing you have to watch out for is that you don't expose the gears. If the
player is constantly and grossly reminded that he can't change the outcome,
he'll probably become disenchanted.

[ok]

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Daniel Barkalow

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Mar 12, 1999, 3:00:00 AM3/12/99
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On Thu, 11 Mar 1999, Lelah Conrad wrote:

> Do you like a game less if there is only one possible outcome?
> Do you like it more if their are multiple possible outcomes? Or is
> the answer again just "it depends"? If so, what does it depend on?

It makes sense to have different endings that are very different-- they
diverge early, and the early descisions determine what the player's goal
is. The ideal in this direction would be for any particular playing style
to lead to a different (and logical) end. (E.g., "And you live happily
for the next year, and then the pile of random junk you collected falls
on you.")

Also neat would be for something special about what you did to be
mentioned in passing in the ending-- the end isn't different, but you get
the acknowledgement that the game actually paid attention to how you
solved the puzzles.

I don't often want to replay the game to see what other endings I could
have gotten unless I feel like I could simply approach the problems with
a different attitude, and get a satisfactory ending with different goals
in mind.

I actually replayed Photopia looking for a different ending,
interestingly enough. I would have liked different endings, although I
don't think there should be a happy ending to find.

-Iabervon
*This .sig unintentionally changed*


Daryl McCullough

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Mar 14, 1999, 3:00:00 AM3/14/99
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l...@nu-world.com (Lelah Conrad) says...

>
> I'd like to know whether authors and players feel multiple
>endings are necessary for the enjoyment of a game. I'm making
>decisions about a work in progress. I'm not really referring to the
>various "you have died" type messages along the way, but to more
>well-fleshed out alternate story lines.

I think that you need to distinguish between enjoyment in playing
the first time (through to some "winning" ending) versus replay
enjoyment. Certainly, replaying a game is more fun if things
happen differently than they did the first time. (If you want
them to happen the same way, just use a transcript.)

However, for people playing the game for the first time, strictly
speaking, there is no advantage to multiple endings. The only
experiences the ending he or she gets, so the existence of
alternative endings doesn't add to the experience at all. Of
course, it may be easier to give the player a feeling of
freedom if you program your game with the idea of multiple
possible endings, but it is not the multiple endings themselves
that add to the experience, but the player's satisfaction with
the way the game plays on its *way* to its ending.

Daryl McCullough
CoGenTex, Inc.
Ithaca, NY


David Thornley

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Mar 15, 1999, 3:00:00 AM3/15/99
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In article <7c7rk8$1...@spool.cs.wisc.edu>,

Dan Shiovitz <d...@cs.wisc.edu> wrote:
>In article <36e75e5c...@news.nu-world.com>,
>Lelah Conrad <l...@nu-world.com> wrote:
>
>There's also the issue of how much time you put into the different
>endings. If there's a one-turn win at the beginning, regardless of how
>good it is, people are going to underrate it compared to other endings
>that take up more playtime (cf Change in the Weather, Bad Machine,
>probably some others). So you may want to avoid putting in endings
>that you can't develop fully, or at least think about how they're
>going to be received.
>
There is the "trivial" solution to Little Blue Men that seems to
be as good, in a way, as the solutions you work harder for (and is
of a different sort than the vending machine ending). On the
other hand, the fact that it casually dropped in a translation from
the motto on the gates of a German concentration camp got it
an extra point of rating from me.
--
David H. Thornley | If you want my opinion, ask.
da...@thornley.net | If you don't, flee.
http://www.thornley.net/~thornley/david/ | O-

David Brain

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Mar 16, 1999, 3:00:00 AM3/16/99
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In article <Pine.LNX.3.91.99031...@iabervon.mit.edu>,
iabe...@iabervon.mit.edu (Daniel Barkalow) wrote:

> Also neat would be for something special about what you did to be
> mentioned in passing in the ending-- the end isn't different, but you
> get the acknowledgement that the game actually paid attention to how
> you solved the puzzles.

Has the end of HHGTTG been mentioned in this thread?
It took me five years and four different types of machine to finish the game (including a
year or so on the PC). At the start of the game, if you take the toothbrush (IIRC) a
message appears to say "As you do so, a tree falls over in the garden. There is no causal
relationship between these events."
At the very end of the game, you get a message which says, in effect, "We lied." Now
that was nice (although I have no idea if this message appears regardless) because it had
been so long since I started the game that I almost couldn't remember the original
message.

--
David Brain

Apotheosis can be somewhat unnerving.
-- Expecting Someone Taller, Tom Holt


Daniel Wineman

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Mar 16, 1999, 3:00:00 AM3/16/99
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Minor HHGTTG spoiler...

David Brain <da...@atlan.cix.co.uk> wrote:
>
>At the start of the game, if you take the toothbrush (IIRC) a
>message appears to say "As you do so, a tree falls over in the garden.
> There is no causal relationship between these events."
>At the very end of the game, you get a message which says, in effect,
>"We lied." Now that was nice (although I have no idea if this message

>appears regardless) [...]

It does, in a sense. You can't finish the game if you didn't take the
toothbrush.

Dan


Matthew T. Russotto

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Mar 17, 1999, 3:00:00 AM3/17/99
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In article <36eef9b...@news.nu-world.com>,
Lelah Conrad <l...@nu-world.com> wrote:
}
} You sound like a very dedicated, fanatical player, but I wonder how
}many people take the time to work out all the endings, and also notice
}stuff like this. Possibly unstated in my original question on this
}thread was whether people would take the time to play out the variant
}endings, to notice this type of thing. It seems like a large
}investment of work on the part of an author, particularly if the
}branches are early and must be supported and considered over the
}entire game. Such an author has to trust that some of the players
}would, like you, persist and notice the subtleties and the variations.

In this case, the game is quite cruel, and the implementation required
only localized effort on the part of the programmer. What it does is
see if you've lost any of the tools. If you have, that's the tool
that Marvin wants to fix the hatch. If you don't have it, you lose
irretrievably.
--
Matthew T. Russotto russ...@pond.com
"Extremism in defense of liberty is no vice, and moderation in pursuit
of justice is no virtue."

Andy Fischer

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Mar 18, 1999, 3:00:00 AM3/18/99
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In article <36eef9b...@news.nu-world.com>, l...@nu-world.com says...

>
> You sound like a very dedicated, fanatical player, but I wonder how
>many people take the time to work out all the endings, and also notice
>stuff like this. Possibly unstated in my original question on this
>thread was whether people would take the time to play out the variant
>endings, to notice this type of thing. It seems like a large
>investment of work on the part of an author, particularly if the
>branches are early and must be supported and considered over the
>entire game. Such an author has to trust that some of the players
>would, like you, persist and notice the subtleties and the variations.
>
>Lelah

Okay, I'm only mentioning this because it's relevant to the subject. It's not a
plug. Okay, maybe it is a little.

My upcoming game has early branching as part of the premise. In fact, the
branching even involves the identity of the player. They start the game not
knowing who they are; and what they "find out" depends on the puzzles. About a
third of a given story is the "searching" part, the other two thirds depends
on who you turn out to be. (As you can see, I'm making sure to keep the
different plotlines balanced).

It's not a plot heavy game, so coding it hasn't been too much of a nightmare. I
have three different player-specific pathways, which all occur in different
areas, so there isn't a real complication in writing those. The most
complicated part is the "common area", where all three storylines spend the
first third of the game. For writing in the common area, I have to take an
extremely object-oriented approach- making sure that objects take care of
themselves, localizing actions to where they belong, etc. If I tried to reason
like "okay, if they have this object, that means that they did this, or that
this event occured, and therefore this object should be removed or that they
have this key, unless they dropped the key, or...", I would just go nuts.

One of the best things I did to organize everything is make sure that the three
player-specific plotlines each occur on their own landscape. Trying to have two
specific plots run through one locale can be an exponential source of problems,
depending on how focused the plot is. If it's a very open plot, like "you're in
a strange place and need to remember who you are", then the problems are kept
to a minimum.

Andy


BabelFish

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Mar 18, 1999, 3:00:00 AM3/18/99
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ap...@cornell.edu (Andy Fischer) penned:

>My upcoming game has early branching as part of the premise. In fact, the
>branching even involves the identity of the player. They start the game not
>knowing who they are; and what they "find out" depends on the puzzles. About a
>third of a given story is the "searching" part, the other two thirds depends
>on who you turn out to be. (As you can see, I'm making sure to keep the
>different plotlines balanced).

I can easily see the problems inherent in trying to have the plots
occur in the same locale... but it makes me think. Wouldn't it be very
interesting if each plotline featured yourself and two major
characters, *both of which could have been you if you had discovered
differently?*

Then, each time you played through, you could do the same story from a
completely different perspective, essentially making it a different
story.

I think this sounds absolutely wonderful. I'd love to try it. Hmm...

-r


Andy Fischer

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Mar 19, 1999, 3:00:00 AM3/19/99
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In article <36f18aee...@news.logical.net>, spam....@planetquake.com
says...

>I can easily see the problems inherent in trying to have the plots
>occur in the same locale... but it makes me think. Wouldn't it be very
>interesting if each plotline featured yourself and two major
>characters, *both of which could have been you if you had discovered
>differently?*
>
>Then, each time you played through, you could do the same story from a
>completely different perspective, essentially making it a different
>story.
>
>I think this sounds absolutely wonderful. I'd love to try it. Hmm...
>
>-r
>

Hmmmm, never thought of that. As far as it goes now, there's one and only one
person stuck in this situation, so it might be contradictory to meet your
other selves. But, it *is* a wonderful idea. I bet I can work it in, somewhere,
somehow.

The thing is, the three seperate plots just go off on their own tangent. But,
I'm sure I can do something to make them related. Yea. Why not.

Related to this, I was thinking of adding the feature of playing as the NPCs
(inspired by Troll's Eye View). Then, you get to watch someone else blunder
through all the obstacles and puzzles that you had to get through. We could get
some cute plays on NPC-hood, like "The stranger asks you about a word you've
never heard of.", and "The stranger delights in showing off their xxx."

Of course, this game needs a lot less 'going to do's, and a lot more 'done's.
Ah, well. Eventually, the Z-machine game size limit will force me to stop
adding stuff.

Andy


loma...@tin.it

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Mar 24, 1999, 3:00:00 AM3/24/99
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Daniel Wineman <dj...@cornell.edu> wrote:

> It does, in a sense. You can't finish the game if you didn't take the
> toothbrush.

Why ? The toothbrush is only one of Marvin's tools

It does get chosen randomly...

--
Lorenzo 'Caffeine' Marcantonio <loma...@tin.it>

Andrew Plotkin

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Mar 25, 1999, 3:00:00 AM3/25/99
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loma...@tin.it wrote:
> Daniel Wineman <dj...@cornell.edu> wrote:

> > It does, in a sense. You can't finish the game if you didn't take the
> > toothbrush.

> Why ? The toothbrush is only one of Marvin's tools

> It does get chosen randomly...

Yeah, but if you're missing any tools, it gets chosen randomly *from the
set of tools you don't have*.

Pretty clever bit of game design, really.

--Z

--

"And Aholibamah bare Jeush, and Jaalam, and Korah: these were the
borogoves..."

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