Sunday, April 12, 2015

5. Make Every Ending True

10 Things You Should Know About:
Writing Interactive Fiction
 5. Make Every Ending 'True!'
Just because You, the Creator, consider a particular Ending 'True' does NOT mean your Players will.

I'm sure you've heard it a million times: "Oh, I finally got the 'True' ending!" And this: "The ending I wanted happened too quick." Or worse: "The ending I got seemed . . . unfinished."

Don't let this happen
to Your Interactive Fiction. 

Just because you, the creator, have decided that one Ending in particular is the 'True' Ending does not mean you can short-change the rest of the Endings!

Treat each and every ending as a 'True' ending, even if the Main Character suddenly dies. Anything less is a direct insult to the player that didn't get your 'True' ending.

This is especially true if your Interactive Fiction is a Romance.

It's Love. Really.
Players of Romance games not only make their decisions based on what they've learned while playing, they make their decisions, and select their Choices based their FEELINGS. 

By insisting that only One ending is Right and True, you've pretty much told the Player that their decisions --and their feelings-- were WRONG.

Treat your player's feelings with care. Give them the Ending they want -- not the Ending You want them to have. 

But I've got like, 50 possible Endings!

If you've got that many possible Endings-- Hell, if you've got more than Two Endings per possible pairing, plus an Alone ending, you've got a LOT of work ahead of you. Especially since each Ending must be thorough enough to read as being a True End.
It's Love. Really.

So, what do you do? 

You trim down the list of Endings to the very minimum, and you adjust the routes to reach Only Those Endings.

Player dies early in the game? 
Shunt every one of those deaths to the same "You Died" Ending. You can even add text hints as to what they missed by using a simple flag that tracks where or how they died. This way you can keep the relevant details down a single line of extra text -- in addition to your Ending text.

Date-able Characters that need
more than one Ending each?
Each one needs their own Ending,
or there will be screaming from the fan-girls,
and possibly death-threats.

Cut all the endings down to Two Endings per character; Love End, and Friendship End, plus One Alone End. With five date-able characters, that makes eleven endings. If you skip the Friendship ends altogether, you'll only have six.

However, the best way to keep the number of Endings manageable is by PLANNING out all the Endings before you start writing.

Full-Size: Right-Click > View Image

Plan your Endings Before you Write!
Plan Everything Before you Write!

There are Creators that don't like to plan out their Interactive Fiction ahead of time. They like to write their scenes, add characters, and generate endings as their inspiration directs them. Those are the Creators that never finish their games.

If you want to reach the finish of your Interactive Fiction, you'll need some kind of Plan to make it happen. 

Look at it this way...
If you don't know where you want to end up, how do you expect to ever get there? 

Just like with a road-trip, you need to know where want to get to to know what routes to take to reach it. As a creator of Interactive Fiction, or any other game, that means you'll need to know ALL your Endings before you can even begin to take your Players there. 

Ookami Kasumi

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