Multiple endings and sequels

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Eytan Zweig

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Jan 13, 2002, 11:07:17 AM1/13/02
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Ok, I'm jumping way ahead of myself here, but I'm currently planning an IF
(I've realized the value of planning when most of the projects I've started
died mid-way because I ran the story into a dead end) that, if all goes
well, might have a sequel one day. The problem is, I want the game to have
several widely disperate endings - the story is a major event in the life of
two characters and how they end up can vary a lot based on the protagonist's
choices.

So, what do people think is the best design decision - to allow multiple
endings, and then, if a sequel materializes, just to continue from one of
them and ignore the others, or to disallow multiple endings in the name of a
choerent sequel?

Eytan


Jon Ingold

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Jan 13, 2002, 11:38:03 AM1/13/02
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"Eytan Zweig" <eyt...@yahoo.com> wrote in message
news:a1sbhc$sv86p$1...@ID-101183.news.dfncis.de...

> Ok, I'm jumping way ahead of myself here, but I'm currently planning an IF
> (I've realized the value of planning when most of the projects I've
started
> died mid-way because I ran the story into a dead end) that, if all goes
> well, might have a sequel one day. The problem is, I want the game to have
> several widely disperate endings - the story is a major event in the life
of
> two characters and how they end up can vary a lot based on the
protagonist's
> choices.

Write a really cunning sequel which fits both endings.

Jon


OKB -- not okblacke

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Jan 13, 2002, 11:48:11 AM1/13/02
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"Eytan Zweig" eyt...@yahoo.com wrote:
>So, what do people think is the best design decision - to allow multiple
>endings, and then, if a sequel materializes, just to continue from one of
>them and ignore the others, or to disallow multiple endings in the name of a
>choerent sequel?

I think the BEST design decision is one which overcomes the constraints
implicit in the two alternatives you named. So, for example, have "episode 1"
write out a small data file which can be read by the next episode, which will
then unfold appropriately. Or, craft your game cunningly so that it is clearly
a sequel but does not directly contradict anything in the earlier episode
(though it may leave "loose ends" where the end condition of the first game is
not explicitly referenced in the next). Or (nearly the same) craft the first
game so that all endings share a common attribute, and then use that as the
jumping point for the beginning of the next game.

--OKB (Bren...@aol.com) -- no relation to okblacke

"Do not follow where the path may lead;
go, instead, where there is no path, and leave a trail."
--Author Unknown

David A. Cornelson

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Jan 13, 2002, 12:10:48 PM1/13/02
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"Eytan Zweig" <eyt...@yahoo.com> wrote in message
news:a1sbhc$sv86p$1...@ID-101183.news.dfncis.de...
>
> So, what do people think is the best design decision - to allow multiple
> endings, and then, if a sequel materializes, just to continue from one of
> them and ignore the others, or to disallow multiple endings in the name of
a
> choerent sequel?

Depends on how much time you want to spend on the whole thing. As you
mentioned, planning is critical. This is one of aspects of planning. I think
a variable is how long do I think I'll stay interested in this story? I have
a WIP that's 18 months in the making and I still feel very strongly about
it. I've had others that slowly got boring.

I would do an outline or storyboard in writing. In fact, do it many times
and in different formats. I write freestyle but then I also write in the
format of a play or script. I write spreadsheet action/reaction files to
build puzzles and logic. All of these tools sort of refines the good ideas
and weeds out the dumb ones. Eventually, you'll see what will work and what
won't and you'll have a path.

I would leave out the multiple endings until they become very obvious. Just
write the story and pick the best ending for now.

One of the things that I would love to see someone do (and have considered
it myself), is a series of super short action games, like a Buck Rogers.

Jarb


Eytan Zweig

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Jan 13, 2002, 12:51:17 PM1/13/02
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"OKB -- not okblacke" <bren...@aol.comRemove> wrote in message
news:20020113114811...@mb-fc.aol.com...

> "Eytan Zweig" eyt...@yahoo.com wrote:
> >So, what do people think is the best design decision - to allow multiple
> >endings, and then, if a sequel materializes, just to continue from one of
> >them and ignore the others, or to disallow multiple endings in the name
of a
> >choerent sequel?
>
> I think the BEST design decision is one which overcomes the
constraints
> implicit in the two alternatives you named. So, for example, have
"episode 1"
> write out a small data file which can be read by the next episode, which
will
> then unfold appropriately. Or, craft your game cunningly so that it is
clearly
> a sequel but does not directly contradict anything in the earlier episode
> (though it may leave "loose ends" where the end condition of the first
game is
> not explicitly referenced in the next). Or (nearly the same) craft the
first
> game so that all endings share a common attribute, and then use that as
the
> jumping point for the beginning of the next game.
>

The problem is that the endings in question are not really very
reconcilable. I might have endings with minor differences, but those will be
added much later in the design process (basically, once I have the game
running I'll think of extras of that sort). Basically, using Star Wars as an
example, the different endings could range from -

- Luke obeys Obi-Wan and lets him fight Darth Vader alone, thus resulting in
Obi-Wan's death, and eventually the destruction of the death star.
- Luke defies Obi-Wan and confronts Darth Vader himself, causing him to
reveal that he's his father, before Luke had been trained by Yoda. As a
result, Luke joins the dark side. The death star is not destroyed.

Now, how does the plot of Empire Strikes Back adjust to contain both
possibilities?

Sure, I can avoid this easily by closing one of the options. But that would
mean that the game would seem more railroaded, as the PC will have to make
certain moral decisions. On the other hand, I can make game 1 more
satisfying by including several possible options, but make it disconcerting
to those who ended up choosing a different ending than the one that'll start
game 2. Or, I guess I can make it clear that every option but my chosen one
is a losing option. Which would you think best?

Eytan

Rikard Peterson

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Jan 13, 2002, 3:14:31 PM1/13/02
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"Eytan Zweig" <eyt...@yahoo.com> skrev i meddelandet
news:a1shke$spnsr$1...@ID-101183.news.dfncis.de...

>
> The problem is that the endings in question are not really very
> reconcilable. I might have endings with minor differences, but those
> will be added much later in the design process (basically, once I
> have the game running I'll think of extras of that sort). Basically,
> using Star Wars as an example, the different endings could range
> from -
>
> - Luke obeys Obi-Wan and lets him fight Darth Vader alone, thus
> resulting in Obi-Wan's death, and eventually the destruction of the
> death star.
> - Luke defies Obi-Wan and confronts Darth Vader himself, causing him
> to reveal that he's his father, before Luke had been trained by
> Yoda. As a result, Luke joins the dark side. The death star is not
> destroyed.
>
> Now, how does the plot of Empire Strikes Back adjust to contain both
> possibilities?

It doesn't. I think that if your endings are that different, you almost
have to choose one of them to build your sequel on. To continue your
Star Wars example, if Luke joins Darth Vader, the game is over for the
rebels - they lose. A sequel could still be made, following either a new
resistence movement or Luke and Darth going up against the emperor. That
plot would in either case be an entirely different beast than the Empire
Strikes Back, making a completely different movie.

If you really want to accomodate the radically different endings you
might as well write two sequels, assuming different endings to be the
true one.

Rikard


Passenger Pigeon

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Jan 13, 2002, 3:35:49 PM1/13/02
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In article <HUl08.9219$461....@news2.bredband.com>, "Rikard Peterson"
<trumg...@bigfoot.com> wrote:

> If you really want to accomodate the radically different endings you
> might as well write two sequels, assuming different endings to be the
> true one.

I really like this idea, incidentally -- and it lets you draw lots of
exciting parallels between the two, making vastly large-scale artistic
statements about moral decisions and their effects.

--
William Burke, passeng...@email.com if you say so
"Many people include in their signatures contact information, and perhaps
a joke or quotation." -- Simon Fraser Go Slugs!
http://www.passengerpigeon.net (not com, not org)

Aris Katsaris

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Jan 13, 2002, 5:07:43 PM1/13/02
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"Eytan Zweig" <eyt...@yahoo.com> wrote in message
news:a1shke$spnsr$1...@ID-101183.news.dfncis.de...

>
> On the other hand, I can make game 1 more
> satisfying by including several possible options, but make it disconcerting
> to those who ended up choosing a different ending than the one that'll start
> game 2. Or, I guess I can make it clear that every option but my chosen one
> is a losing option. Which would you think best?

Have game 2 contain a flashback sequence (dream/memory/whatever) that'd
contain the crucial decision of game 1. Then flashforward to the game proper,
depending on the choice.

Aris Katsaris


Edan Harel

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Jan 13, 2002, 5:45:57 PM1/13/02
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Rikard Peterson (trumg...@bigfoot.com) wrote:
: "Eytan Zweig" <eyt...@yahoo.com> skrev i meddelandet

: news:a1shke$spnsr$1...@ID-101183.news.dfncis.de...
: >
: > The problem is that the endings in question are not really very
: > reconcilable. I might have endings with minor differences, but those
: > will be added much later in the design process (basically, once I
: > have the game running I'll think of extras of that sort). Basically,
: > using Star Wars as an example, the different endings could range
: > from -
: >
: > - Luke obeys Obi-Wan and lets him fight Darth Vader alone, thus
: > resulting in Obi-Wan's death, and eventually the destruction of the
: > death star.
: > - Luke defies Obi-Wan and confronts Darth Vader himself, causing him
: > to reveal that he's his father, before Luke had been trained by
: > Yoda. As a result, Luke joins the dark side. The death star is not
: > destroyed.
: >
: > Now, how does the plot of Empire Strikes Back adjust to contain both
: > possibilities?

: It doesn't. I think that if your endings are that different, you almost
: have to choose one of them to build your sequel on. To continue your
: Star Wars example, if Luke joins Darth Vader, the game is over for the
: rebels - they lose. A sequel could still be made, following either a new
: resistence movement or Luke and Darth going up against the emperor. That
: plot would in either case be an entirely different beast than the Empire
: Strikes Back, making a completely different movie.

Oh, I don't think that's always true. It's been too long since I've seen
ESB, but consider the following: Suppose that if Luke joins the dark side,
then in the sequel his mission is to infiltrate the rebels and join them on
their mission, in order to prevent it from succeeding. Perhaps he
gives them false information that sends them going into a trap, where, at the
end of the mission, they are captured by the empire. Or perhaps in the
sequel, both the empire and the rebels are in danger by some third force,
and so they work together, at least temporarily. The more flexable the
sequel's plot is, of course, the easier it would be to maintain the
results/ending of the preceding game.

--
-- Edan Harel

Gregg V. Carroll

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Jan 13, 2002, 6:03:02 PM1/13/02
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On 1/13/02 11:07 AM, Eytan Zweig at eyt...@yahoo.com posted:


> So, what do people think is the best design decision - to allow multiple
> endings, and then, if a sequel materializes, just to continue from one of
> them and ignore the others, or to disallow multiple endings in the name of a
> choerent sequel?

Since people have already brought up the example of Star Wars, and IIRC, it
might be worth mentioning that at the time, Lucas wasn't sure that he was
going to be able to complete the SW saga (money, studio support, etc.), and
therefore, constructed the original (Episode 4, for the picky) to exist as a
film in and of itself. Watching it, it's pretty obvious. It is arguably the
most well-rounded in the series to date (probably ever, let's be honest),
and follows the arc of a traditional story; beginning, middle, end.

It introduces characters and conflicts, and pretty mush resolves them all,
with respect to that film in itself. Sure, it's been expanded since, and
it's difficult, if not impossible, to watch it in a vacuum apart from the
others, but had it flopped, it could stand on its own feet as a film. As it
turns out, that didn't happen, but Lucas was wise to accept that
possibility, even if he was optimistic.

You might want to keep this in mind, only because writing IF is incredibly
challenging, and you may feel differently about making a sequel later on.
I'd say, make it a game that can stand on its own, but don't close of
avenues where there could be further exploration if you choose to do so
later on.

Gregg

Mark W

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Jan 13, 2002, 7:57:28 PM1/13/02
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"Eytan Zweig" <eyt...@yahoo.com> wrote in message news:<a1shke$spnsr$1...@ID-101183.news.dfncis.de>...
>
> The problem is that the endings in question are not really very
> reconcilable. I might have endings with minor differences, but those will be
> added much later in the design process (basically, once I have the game
> running I'll think of extras of that sort). Basically, using Star Wars as an
> example, the different endings could range from -
>
> - Luke obeys Obi-Wan and lets him fight Darth Vader alone, thus resulting in
> Obi-Wan's death, and eventually the destruction of the death star.
> - Luke defies Obi-Wan and confronts Darth Vader himself, causing him to
> reveal that he's his father, before Luke had been trained by Yoda. As a
> result, Luke joins the dark side. The death star is not destroyed.
>
> Now, how does the plot of Empire Strikes Back adjust to contain both
> possibilities?
>
> Sure, I can avoid this easily by closing one of the options. But that would
> mean that the game would seem more railroaded, as the PC will have to make
> certain moral decisions. On the other hand, I can make game 1 more
> satisfying by including several possible options, but make it disconcerting
> to those who ended up choosing a different ending than the one that'll start
> game 2. Or, I guess I can make it clear that every option but my chosen one
> is a losing option. Which would you think best?
>
> Eytan

Being the one that started this whole thread, I feel the tiniest bit
of responsibility for setting people on this path. I hope many good
things come of it. Eytan, feel free to join my e-group (tsif), where I
hope to tackle questions like this in more detail. I hope to write a
report on our findings after the first serialized games start
appearing.

I agree, planing is crucial, and so is cleverness. Writing a sequal
that doesn't address the first games isn't particulary clever. Writing
a sequal that does is.

I'm setting aside the obvious answer of creating a save game file that
would carry over variables and game status. Let me pose the question
to you in new words, maybe it will help you take a step back and think
about the answer in a new way.

How do you create a Game 2 that knows what happened in Game 1? And how
do you do it so that you don't have to write two completely different
scenarios for Game 2. And how do you do it so that it's completely
transparent to the player that this is happening. And, finally, how do
you do it so that someone who never played Game 1 can play Game 2
without noticing a lack in how the game works.

For your particular situation, however, I would recommend the save
game file, and always plan one game in advance so you would know what
you need in the file.

Mark

Damien Neil

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Jan 13, 2002, 8:44:44 PM1/13/02
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On Sun, 13 Jan 2002 21:14:31 +0100,
Rikard Peterson <trumg...@bigfoot.com> wrote:
> If you really want to accomodate the radically different endings you
> might as well write two sequels, assuming different endings to be the
> true one.

"Blood Omen", a Playstation game, offers the player a choice and two
endings at the end. The sequels have been built with the assumption
that the player chose a specific ending; it all seems to work fairly
well from my perspective.

These games are an interesting example, since time travel is involved.
I wouldn't be surprised if events in upcoming games result in the
choice of the first game being retroactively changed.

- Damien

Daniel Barkalow

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Jan 14, 2002, 12:18:10 AM1/14/02
to

Considering the behaviour of most players around here, most people who
finish game 1 will do so in as many of the ways as they can. Of course,
they'll probably have a favorite ending, the way they think the story
should go. But, so long as the ending which introduces game 2 is
reasonably motivated, it won't be particularly disconcerting for the
series to follow a different path. There are already games where there is
a "correct" ending (where, e.g., the main character doesn't do something
foolish), which does not make for an interesting game. It wouldn't be much
of a stretch to have game 2 based on the premise that a particular thing
had happened in game 1, as players are willing to play whole games based
on the premise that, although the easy choice was available to the
character (and to the player), the character ignored it.

-Iabervon
*This .sig unintentionally changed*

Mark W

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Jan 14, 2002, 1:25:34 AM1/14/02
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Damien Neil <ne...@centauri.org> wrote in message news:<slrna44e6...@adira.centauri.org>...

Or in the case of Metal Gear where both endings are the true ending
and some of the things you were told happened didn't actually happen.
You were only told them, after all, you didn't see them.

Mark

Jon Ingold

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Jan 14, 2002, 6:25:50 AM1/14/02
to
Ooh, here's an idea:

At the end of game 1, you are told you must go "TO SOME PLACE". Then, at the
start of game two, you're by a flight computer, and it asks you where you
want to go. Therefore, whichever one the player knows the name of, the game
will assume that's the first game ending he reached.

"Where do you want to fly sir?"

>COMPUTER, IJUSTBLEWUPADEATHSTAR

"Certainly, sir!"

Jon


Andrew Plotkin

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Jan 14, 2002, 12:45:09 PM1/14/02
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Damien Neil <ne...@centauri.org> wrote:
> On Sun, 13 Jan 2002 21:14:31 +0100,
> Rikard Peterson <trumg...@bigfoot.com> wrote:
>> If you really want to accomodate the radically different endings you
>> might as well write two sequels, assuming different endings to be the
>> true one.

> "Blood Omen", a Playstation game, offers the player a choice and two
> endings at the end. The sequels have been built with the assumption
> that the player chose a specific ending; it all seems to work fairly
> well from my perspective.

It's a rather amusing position, actually. (I'm verging on general
spoilers for the games now, but they're vague.)

The first game ends with a choice between good (self-sacrifice) and
evil (selfishness).

All the sequels are written from the assumption that the protagonist
(of the first game) chose evil. Nobody has said so, but it's perfectly
obvious that this is because good is *dull*. I mean, historically
speaking. It was much cooler to depict a future where the world
descends into decay, nihilism, and portentious doom.

(I *really* enjoyed the sequel. The sequel to the sequel was a bit
disappointing.)

> These games are an interesting example, since time travel is involved.
> I wouldn't be surprised if events in upcoming games result in the
> choice of the first game being retroactively changed.

They've got something in mind, but I'm not convinced it's all going to
make sense in the end. I fear they've fallen into a pit of "it's time
travel and it's confusing, so all we have to do is throw in plot twist
after plot twist, and it'll never be provably inconsistent."

--Z

"And Aholibamah bare Jeush, and Jaalam, and Korah: these were the borogoves..."
*
* Make your vote count. Get your vote counted.

Mark W

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Jan 14, 2002, 3:06:00 PM1/14/02
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"Jon Ingold" <ji...@cam.ac.uk> wrote in message news:<a1uf9k$dtq$1...@pegasus.csx.cam.ac.uk>...

Didn't Nintendo do this in the 80's/90's? You'd get a new line of
gibberish every stage of the game.

Mark

LizM7

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Jan 14, 2002, 9:36:14 PM1/14/02
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deve...@mailandnews.com (Mark W) wrote in message news:<772ca430.02011...@posting.google.com>...

> Didn't Nintendo do this in the 80's/90's? You'd get a new line of
> gibberish every stage of the game.

Yeah. The "password" system is still one of the simplest ways of
guarenteeing that gamers will start at Lvl 1 and work their way up
without having to worry about save files and that sort of stuff.
(It's also one of the most irritating, esp. when they give you
gibberish instead of a real word.) It's still found in some console
games, and is (from my experience) *the* standard for Flash /
Shockwave games.

- Liz

Damien Neil

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Jan 15, 2002, 4:29:49 AM1/15/02
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On 14 Jan 2002 17:45:09 GMT,
Andrew Plotkin <erky...@eblong.com> wrote:
[Blood Omen]

> (I *really* enjoyed the sequel. The sequel to the sequel was a bit
> disappointing.)

I agree. Seemed short, too.


> They've got something in mind, but I'm not convinced it's all going to
> make sense in the end. I fear they've fallen into a pit of "it's time
> travel and it's confusing, so all we have to do is throw in plot twist
> after plot twist, and it'll never be provably inconsistent."

You are probably right, alas. It's easy to get lazy with time-travel
plots. It'll probably become more apparent when Blood Omen 2 (the
*real* sequel, as opposed to the sequel to the sidestory (is everyone
confused yet?)) comes out later this year.

- Damien

Jon Ingold

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Jan 15, 2002, 7:11:27 AM1/15/02
to
> Didn't Nintendo do this in the 80's/90's? You'd get a new line of
> gibberish every stage of the game.

Yeah, and Lemmings used it too - but not in a particularly plot-focussed
way.

Jon


David Thornley

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Jan 15, 2002, 4:27:27 PM1/15/02
to
In article <772ca430.02011...@posting.google.com>,

Mark W <deve...@mailandnews.com> wrote:
>"Jon Ingold" <ji...@cam.ac.uk> wrote in message news:<a1uf9k$dtq$1...@pegasus.csx.cam.ac.uk>...
>> Ooh, here's an idea:
>>
>> At the end of game 1, you are told you must go "TO SOME PLACE". Then, at the
>> start of game two, you're by a flight computer, and it asks you where you
>> want to go. Therefore, whichever one the player knows the name of, the game
>> will assume that's the first game ending he reached.
>>
>> "Where do you want to fly sir?"
>>
>> >COMPUTER, IJUSTBLEWUPADEATHSTAR
>>
>> "Certainly, sir!"
>
>Didn't Nintendo do this in the 80's/90's? You'd get a new line of
>gibberish every stage of the game.
>
I've got a file on my PDA containing passwords for my son's
Earthworm Jim and Tom & Jerry Gameboy cartridges, and apparently
they're used in the latest Zelda duet for the Gameboy. I don't
know if any Gameboy Advance games are going to use them; I
haven't come across any, but we've only got three so far.

The first time I saw it was in the Scott Adams game "Savage
Island". Finish part I and you get a password to type in for
the start of part II. What I didn't realize for a while is
that there were two passwords: one for finishing the first
part the wrong way and one for finishing it the right way.


--
David H. Thornley | If you want my opinion, ask.
da...@thornley.net | If you don't, flee.
http://www.thornley.net/~thornley/david/ | O-

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