Gw Temp


Article - 'The End' by Angroth

An item about Game Design posted on Aug 12, 2004


Angroth's article about game endings.



The end of a game is definitely an important part of all games. If a game doesn’t end well, the players will feel put off whether or not the rest of the game was good; a great game that finishes with some tiny crappy bit of dialogue and then one silly “Welldone!” picture screen is pretty disappointing. The players might feel a little bit like they wasted their time, they might even give a bad review of a game because of it or be put off playing it again. So hopefully I can help you get an ending that is right for your game!

An ending can have many different uses from being a cataclysmic ending where the hero learns secrets about other characters or something more important like the fate of the world. Endings where the game creator carefully shows his / her views on certain topics, like when there’s an obvious moral to the story. All the way to endings that are unexpected and “to be continued” leading on to a sequel. Your own ending(s) will rely upon your skills in story writing, so you might want to play before hand to get something original and interesting. Remember, there are always people willing to help write stories if you’re not particularly good at it yourself.

Common Endings

Below are some of the most common endings we see and descriptions on each. You can use what is good and bad about each of these types to help you devise your own master ending!

1 – Happy Endings
Most conventional RPGs follow the happy ending plot. The hero and his fellow friends defeat the source of evil and everything is restored to its peaceful origins. Alternate or simultaneous endings would include the princess finally falling in love with the hero, and possibly more love sprouting between two lesser characters. Everyone’s one main goal is accomplished and the hero(s) are rewarded aplenty. Although a good ending, it usually makes sequels seem pretty tacky and is often considered an easy way out of a thoughtful and meaningful ending, quite a few people like to see more original endings.
To spice up this overly happy ending, a number of things can be done. More complex subplots and twists within the story that make it obvious that not everyone can have a happy ending even from the start (due to nobody strictly being a hero or a villain and / or interlinks between villain and heroic characters). Or maybe the hero never ends up king and his meagrely helper ends up becoming king and taking the dominant role in the story. There are many little twists that don’t involve great effort but can make your ending stand out more and be less of a rehash of all the older RPG endings.

2 – Sad Endings
Sad / bad endings can never be overdone. They’ll always seem credible because barely anyone does it. Whether the hero never saves the princess in time and she’s is murdered or if the hero finally manages to unlock the secret gemstone and it summons a hail of asteroids and volcanic eruptions across the world instead of saving the world. Sad endings can make a player become shocked (if it was completely unexpected) and reflect upon everything earlier on in the game, who knows, if the rest of the game was good a tear might even crawl into their eye. However this type of ending can easily be overdone or executed badly. For instance, if the ending is extremely bad and not much explanation is given they player might feel annoyed that such a good game should end so bad and confusingly.
However it isn’t too hard to make this ending type sad and good at the same time. If at least someone gets it good in the end, or if the bad guy was really cool and you could relate to him / her, so them getting the better of the hero gives a bad but at the same time eerily good ending.

3 – Twist Endings
Twist endings involve small to very large twist directly at, or near the end. These range from Dumb and Dumber (not that it’s an RPG) where you expect something good to come of all that is done, but nothing changes. To The Matrix where Neo is killed (because all is going badly) but he comes back to life and becomes much more than he ever was. A twist like the one in The Matrix, you’d expect to see three quarters the way through the film, therefore we can class it as an end twist. The good thing about twists at the end is that they’re unexpected but can often be funny, tragic, or really good! But obviously, they can be ridiculous or unnecessary at times, some games are better without them. However if you think a big twist works well at the end of your game, it might be worth considering having a twist ending. Or maybe push a revelation the hero discovers in the middle of the game, to the end. As long as the twist relates well to the story and is reasonably feasible this is possibly one of the better kinds of endings possible; the hero can unexpectedly kill the villain resulting in a happy ending but if it really were unexpected it would relieve a lot of tension and make the conventional happy ending become more appreciated by the player.

4 – Multiple Endings
Personally I’m in favour of multiple endings, I know lots of people who are and aren’t. Either way, if the player isn’t, who says they have to try and see all the endings? And if they want to play it again, can’t they just do exactly the same as what they did the first time? Non-linear storylines are undoubtedly interesting. And at least with multiple endings you don’t have to worry about getting one perfect ending that everyone will love, you can just have a few different good endings.
However I advise you don’t go much above 4 endings (great, good, average and bad), too many endings can deter players from the game again or if you advertise your game with 11 endings they might just be put off before hand and then never play it.

General Advice

Endings should be really worthwhile watching. It shouldn’t be ridiculously long but definitely about 5 - 10 minutes of pure watching would be great! If they aren’t that interesting you better make sure you unlock some secrets or something to make the player feel like they’ve achieved something with all their great efforts.
The ending should be truly cinematic where the game doesn’t wait for the player to press enter through the dialogue. And maybe (like in FFVII) to make the un-playability of it stand out, make a bit where the play has to do something that determines something another character might do (but not alter the whole ending), like an arm wrestling match or a little fighting bout.
To make your ending stand out in needs some over the top graphics at the end. Some nice flashy pictures, or maybe the characters wearing costumes that the player won’t yet have seen (unless they peeked in the character set folder). The more there that’s not treading old ground, the more appealing and amazing.
As with the introduction to your game, it should be more about the visuals and climatic finish than overbearing with dialogue. Not that dialogue is bad but a player needs to be able to sit back and relax in an ending, not have to strain their eyes reading screens and screens of text.
Finally, the ending should explain everything (or as much as possible, unless you have decent reasons for it not explaining). It also needs to be very natural and rational in thought. If you don’t do this the player could feel rejected out of your game and give a bad game review / rating, making less people play it. Basically, just do what feels right! (if you know what I mean)