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Falling action in games

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Hello everyone,
I had a question regarding the story structure in games.
From what I have learned in my English classes, all stories follow a very general form of progression. In most cases, it's generally shown as a "mountain" or something of that nature to show the tension in the story. The five different parts to this are:

  1. Beginning/Exposition
  2. Rising Action
  3. Climax
  4. Falling Action
  5. Ending/Denouement

In literary works, although sometimes deviated slightly, this is mostly adhered to, making the conclusions to the books satisfying.

However my question arises from game design as we know it. Games are always structured around a difficulty curve, to make the game less monotonous, provide a time to learn mechanics, and maintain a challenge - which in turn provides the player with intrinsic rewards. From what I've seen in story-based games, the design of a game is focused on this difficulty curve. In many cases, platformer, action, FPS, RPG, adventure, and horror games use something along the lines of a "final boss" and sometimes even a "final FINAL boss" to design a final challenge.

While this may feel fine and good to the player, who is provided with the thrill of victory, it somewhat limits the story. By adhering to a difficulty curve it seems almost impossible to have any Falling Action. Rather, games provide one monumental challenge and then end.

The only game I can actually recall that had some form of Falling Action was Earthbound, allowing you to explore Eagleland and actually see changes, while returning to a normal life.

What I want to know is if there are ways to maintain a solid story progression, rather than leaving the player cut short? Do you think this is a significant difference from other story-telling mediums? When should story-telling take from the game's challenge?

I'd love to hear what you have to say on the matter, and hear examples to boot.

EDIT: Apologies if this is more of a Game Design question. I felt as if it would be a good idea to hear from writers themselves.

Edited by epicpunnum

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The only game I can actually recall that had some form of Falling Action was Earthbound


Dreamfall: The Longest Journey had falling action; very moving.

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