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A happy end

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You save the world. You rescue the princess. You win the race. When you win a game you usually reach a happy end. I remember reading a couple of interviews with game designers that said you must have a happy end to reward the gamer for all the effort he put in. It makes a lot of sense. But do we really need the happy ending? I've enjoyed many a movie that didn't have a happy end. I didn't feel betrayed because things didn't go like the protagonists would have liked them too. Sometimes a bad ending just feel a lot more "right". What if, at the end of a shooter, right after you kill the big boss, you are caught by the police and thrown in jail (you did kill a lot of people to get there, didn't you?)? What if after rescuing the princess she tells you she had fallen in love with her captor and now she hates you for killing him? Or if even after all your work defeating an entire alien army single-handed you find out they managed to hit the self-destruct button and the planet asplodes? OK, so these examples might not be the best examples because I've used generic game plots that were written with a happy end in mind, but is the happy end really that necessary? Would you feel betrayed if all the effort you put into beating a game ends up being "for nothing" because things don't turn out right? Isn't seeing the plot to a conclusion reward enough? As an aside, if anyone can refer me to games that didn't have a happy end I'd be thankful. shmoove

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Max Payne 2 didn't have a happy ending in my opinion, and yes, it did piss me off.

-Mezz

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Oh yeah, I forgot about that game.

And I liked the ending. A great example of how the not-so-happy ending fits the feel of the game much better than a rosy pink ending. Anything happier in Max Payne would've pissed me off actually.

More please.

shmoove

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In a game with multiple endings it would be okay to have a lousy score at the game result in a lousy ending, but yeah I am definitely pissed off if I did everything the game asked me to and got a lousy ending anyway.

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Also, during a game, the player dies every time he makes a mistake.
I think happy ending is just the best way to state that the end has been reached. An "unhappy ending" makes you feel like you missed something.

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Starcraft, both the orignal and the expansion arguably both have non-happy endings. Ditto with Warcraft 3. Of course, the there are the games where there's a sequel and everyone knows there's a sequel up front, like Digital Devil Saga. Some endings aren't completely happy, like what happens with Tidus and Auran at the end of FF-X. And I don't think it's possible to convince me that either ending of Shadow Hearts 2 is happy. I don't recall all the details, but Vagrant story sticks in my mind as not having a happy ending.

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Max Payne 2 did have a happy ending if you finish the game on hardest difficulty (which you must unlock first). Still happy endings are bullshit, if the story is good a happy ending isn't necessary at all.

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Half-Life 2's ending is not happy unless you were really annoyed by all of the resistance types. FreeSpace 2's ending is not very happy, especially if you are too slow on the last mission and get caught in the shockwave. Diablo's ending is not that happy, especially if you have played Diablo II and know the rest of the story. I could probably go on for a bit. I was not disappointed in any of these endings because they felt natural and fit with the rest of the story, and because although definitely not happy, none of them told me that it had all been for nothing. Instead they their endings were realistic: they said that I had accomplished something, but not all that I had hoped to.

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How about something really anticlimatic? A "Thelma and Louise" game where at the end you have no other choice but to drive off the cliff in order to "win" the game, for example.

EDIT (some more examples):
* At the end of the game, you find out the hero is actually paranoid and psychotic and all the bad guys weren't really bad.
* Similar to the previous example, a conspiracy theory game, and at the end you find there was no conspiracy after all.

After all, in most games the odds are against you. While this probably is the reason beating can feel so good, it's not very realistic. Is realism only desirable in graphics?

shmoove

EDIT: Ooooohh, my 1111th post.

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Guest Anonymous Poster
Operation Flashponit, a realistic FPS had more endings, you had to find a scud and destroy it IIRC, you could fail and get a not so happy ending, I didn't really want to try again because I got the enemy general :D.

The addon to OFP, Resistance, had a unhappy ending and I was really pissed.
Khm *spoiler*
You save the whole island but you die! Damn...
I wish they would make another ending where you survive.

So I Im a fan of multiple endings :)

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I like the idea of a Thelma and Louise ending, it'd be very original in a game. [smile]

The ending of a story has to fit the tone of the story as a whole. I dont know if you can have a happy story and top it off with an unhappy ending, it would feel jarring and unnatural (imagine mario running in to rescue the princess .. and she's in love with bowser? [flaming]).

Its interesting that when you ask about unhappy endings in games, the first one mentioned is Max Payne. [smile] Typically, a storyline sets the tone (which the ending will follow) right away. Max Payne (Im talking about the first only here, never played the sequel) is a brilliant game, story-wise among other things, it sets up the whole mood of the story right away. Max Payne's family is murdered and how can a happy ending possibly follow from there? So player never expects one and we feel satisfied in the end when Max Payne gets arrested (even though the game bluntly states that its not over.)

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Guest Anonymous Poster
Has anyone played The Bard's Tale? I mean the new one.
*Spoiler warning :)*
You fight lots of monsters and evil guys to save the princess.
In the end, the 'evil' boss tells you that this princess is the
leader of hell or something like that and you have to choose
whom you believe. But you also have another option.
To turn around and walk away. That one was really funny :D

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Quote:
Original post by SiCrane
I don't recall all the details, but Vagrant Story sticks in my mind as not having a happy ending.


Vagrant Story, like FF 7, had a confusing-as-all-hell ending, so it was hard to figure out whether it was happy or what. But I did think it sucked that Vagrant Story had no alternate endings, that kind of defeated the purpose of the new game+ feature.

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For me, it doesn't bother much if my avatar dies or something similarly bad happens, but

- Before that, the avatar's actions must have achieved something amazing. Something like the truce in Matrix:Revolutions would personally piss me off - I want my enemies crushed...
- Ending must fit the atmosphere of the rest of the game. Max Payne 1/2 do this just right, but actually the games led me to believe than in true noir fashion Max would end up much worse off...
- Must be professionally done - no twists right at the end, when the game itself is already over, just for the sake of being clever.

Probably said this before, but I think Chaser is hard to top in disappointing endings (EDIT: link added) - http://www.visualwalkthroughs.com/chaser/outro/outro.htm

[Edited by - AgentC on August 1, 2005 2:03:53 PM]

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Guest Anonymous Poster
I quite like stories that have a bittersweet ending; ones where the hero/heroes succeed but at some great cost, or if everything isn't quite perfect at the end.

My favourite would have to be the one in Fallout.
(warning: slight spoiler for Fallout!)
At the end of Fallout, after you defeat the bad guy and make the world safe for your fallout shelter vault village, because you have seen too much of the outside world and could act as a destabilising influence for those in the vault, the over-conservative overseer decides to exile you. The game ends with a cutscene of you despondently trudging away through the blasted wasteland with that sad music playing.

However, I only think it works if you have a "winning" ending for the heroes. In the Fallout example, the hero still achieves his/her goal of making the vault safe. A "losing" ending where the protagonist is thwarted before achieving their goal would not work well as it doesn't fit in our preconceptions of the story structure; the story will feel incomplete.

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Argh, what happened there? I double checked I was logged in and everythng!
That last Anon. Poster was me, and it removed my formatting for the spoiler warning.

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Quote:
Original post by Trapper Zoid
However, I only think it works if you have a "winning" ending for the heroes. In the Fallout example, the hero still achieves his/her goal of making the vault safe. A "losing" ending where the protagonist is thwarted before achieving their goal would not work well as it doesn't fit in our preconceptions of the story structure; the story will feel incomplete.


I very much agree with this. Noir endings are too hip and faddish for me philosophically. I don't buy into the notion that I should be happy because everything's screwed up in the end. I think with your world fiction and your ending, you're saying something about how you either think the world is or should be. But noir is so negative that it rings false, kind of like junk food for the mind (like horror movies).

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Quote:
Original post by mumpo
Half-Life 2's ending is not happy unless you were really annoyed by all of the resistance types.

Indeed it wasn't. And I absolutely love it. Most of my friends were pretty disappointed, though.

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Quote:
Original post by shmoove
How about something really anticlimatic? A "Thelma and Louise" game where at the end you have no other choice but to drive off the cliff in order to "win" the game, for example.


Or what if the game ended in a situation you could never get out of alive, but there wouldn't be a hardcoded way of how it would end? Let's say at the end you'd be at the top of a TV-station tower, having broadcast & exposed a conspiracy. All around you could see the revolution begin, but you would never be part of it alive, as you'd be swarmed by enemy troops with no way out except down in freefall... Would this be too indistinguishable from a normal death/gameover sequence, so that some would retry it over and over again to "win"? (perhaps would need some fade to white / time slowing down / other beautiful stuff, to distinguish)



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Quote:
Original post by Wavinator
I think with your world fiction and your ending, you're saying something about how you either think the world is or should be.

Exactly, the world doesn't suck, but it's not that great either. All the examples I gave are things that I would really like to play. And not necesarilly in a Max Paynish film-noir type game. It would feel a lot more real, make you think. Maybe add some morality into the equation - the end doesn't always justify the means. But I guess it would be hard not to fall into a trap of just slapping on a bitter end just to be different or cool (the princess in love with Bowser for example, although I would be laughing my ass off with that one).

shmoove

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You don't mind unhappy endings in movies as much because all you're doing is sitting there. With games, you actually have to actually do stuff to get to the end, so it feels like your investment of effort was wasted.

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