Endings and Sequels


#1

As I writer, I want to include meaningful choices and diverse ending possibilities. As a writer who’s thinking about sequels… I want to keep open the possibility of a sequel game. And prepare the ground for it, by keeping enough common ground in the ending to make seguing into the sequel arc smoothly possible. And not penalize the reader for choosing an ending that’s incompatible with the sequel arc.

You can’t have it all. What’s worth sacrificing?

  • Sacrifice ending variety in the first game, and make all endings importable.
  • Sacrifice sequel imports, and make only some endings compatible with the sequel.
  • Sacrifice sequel continuity, and figure out an explanation for the discrepancies.
  • Sacrifice the sequel, write a standalone game.

0 voters


#2

I can not vote here because I believe that how you design and develop your project determines what you can and can not have.

When I set out designing a project, I have a beginning and end to the “whole.” So far this means that the projects are underestimated in scope - what I think should be one game turns out in scope to be multiple but I don’t sacrifice anything in pursuit of the project.

The fact that I underestimate the size and scope of my projects is my inexperience; once I gain the proper tools, I do not foresee any issue what so ever.


#3

I as reader only could judge your work for what I could see in the actual content. If I notice game is watered down and restrict heavily my agency to make a possible sequel well you lost me as player. It feels cheap you could have planned five sequels but it shouldnt be obvious in game that you are forcing railroad the player in a small rails to helping commercially a sequel.

Also @Eiwynn is right with good planning ahead you could have the best of both worlds.


#4

That’s a tough one. If you’re writing a sequence from the beginning, brainstorm how to have a variety of endings that can import into sequels.

If a sequel is a ‘maybe’ as you’re writing the first, go ahead and write whatever endings you want. I would be willing to start a new character in a sequel if my endings to the first were incompatible. In that case, keep the usable companions and things like that.

I try not to set unreasonable expectations of what’s possible in the medium. I love the long-chain games, and I accept that endings need to be linkable. I can’t quit my life of violence and walk off into the sunset in the Samurai series or say “Screw all y’all” and drive off on my own in the Zombie Exodus series.

If I really loved your story and an MC, I’d play through the first game again and chose an ending that I could import. Otherwise, I can accept making a new character with the summary questions of what they’d have done in the previous chapters.


#5

Personally I think sequels are a huge trap. It introduces scope creep on the writer’s side and keeps you locked in a specific story or world for a very long time. On the reader’s side, it’s a bigger barrier to entry and forces you to rely on loyal readers rather than newcomers for the sequel; every time you come out with a new game, you have to market the whole series rather than just the newest game.


#6

Ooh, controversial. I like it.


#7

I never said I reflect popular sentiment ha ha!


#8

Writing wise, I think planning is key. It would be horrible to think you have possible ideas of a sequel, and so go forward with the idea of limited endings, only to find out that maybe it doesn’t need a sequel after all. Or vice versa, where you have so many endings, but then realize there’s a sequel in there, only don’t know what to do with all the branches. I think both result in incomplete games.

Reader wise, if game seems like it’s purposefully limiting the endings just for a potential sequel, there’s a good chance the first game will seem like lesser than it could have been, and I won’t care enough to even look at the sequel at all.

I personally prefer the first Dragon Age’s method of having many ending epilogues, and then finding out in later games much of that was rumors, then having more limited endings like in Dragon Age Inquisition. Because then the first Dragon Age is complete, and even though I wasn’t happy about it being rumors, it didn’t lessen the experience because it still happened in the game.

Or, you could always go the Elder Scrolls route and make ALL the endings true. :laughing:


#9

I personally am ok, with the idea of a story ending a certain way, if there are different ways to achieve the goal. For example:
You are playing an archeologist who´s goal is to achieve an artifact, and he might gain it through several successful expeditions, by taking it back from a rival after failing an earlier expeditions or buying it back on the black market, according to how the expeditions went. So you have at the end only one ending, having the artifact, but the events before, are really different.


#10

honestly…

I’m kinda on the fence . On one hand , a sequel is only a sequel if you bring back the hero and the choices they made . Otherwise , it doesn’t feel like a sequel or it feel like you just discarded everything the character went trough…and that drive me mad .

On the other hand , I understand thats hard to write a sequel and that the choices just become too much .

and when it isn’t done well…like this other game where the final choice you made…was just…POUF! Discarded…Oh no…you killed this guy in the end ? Sorry…he is alive and well and guess what ? He is the 1st npc you get to talk to .

Grrrrrrrr I remember I told him to go space himself and got killed on the spot , Uninstalled the game , and never looked back .


#11

I’d say that this depends entirely on the game. Are you writing the story with the possibility of a sequel, or the intention of a sequel? How likely do you think the chances of you writing a sequel are?

If the game is intended to be a standalone game with a very low possibility of a sequel, I’d say just write the game as you want it to be, forget about imports and continuity, and if you ever do decide to write a sequel, figure out how you’re going to cross that bridge when it comes to it.

If you’re writing the game with the intention of making a sequel at some point, then you should either write all the endings with the intention of them being compatible with the sequel, or you could write a few endings that’re compatible with the sequel, and others that’re more final, but somehow make it clear that this is where the story ends and, if the player wants to transfer their story to the sequel, they’ll need to find a different ending. (I seem to remember Choice of Romance doing something like this. There were three different romance options, with two options leading to a definite ending, and only one option leading to the sequel.)


#12

FWIW, I’d plan to write a sequel(s) long before because I’ve been planning to have a sequel before even start writing.


As @will mentioned, writing sequel can limit your scope. There’s also something that called franchise fatigue, I believe. However, if you’re writing sequel on different timeline/same universe, you still can explore other parts of your world without being constricted by arbritary walls. The link between the timeline can be figured out by your own creativity.

In my case, my plan is to have a sequel (game2) that takes place sometimes after the event of game1. The ending of game2 is a cliffhanger of the ending of a… an alternate place (game3). Game3 takes place on different planet, same universe, which have a more prominent setting than the planet of game 1&2. Aaand, there’s more being planned.

So, the timeline should look like this, if it helps:

Game1 > Game2 > X > (fast forward to modern-day setting) Game N
Game3 > X

Confused? Intergalactic teleportation gate is available.


#13

You say that like it’s a bad thing. :smiley:


#14

I can say:
-If, and only if, you already have one or more sequels planned, write only one ending and keep multiple ending for the final book;
-You can make the multiple ending choice irelevant plot wise (ex. Dark Souls)
Pro: It’s easier to write Con: You will almost certainly upset every reader
-You can melt some aspects of every ending in one canonical ending (ex. Deus Ex)
Pro: you make a compromise with every reader Con: You will most probably cook a dish that is neither meet neither fish, It’s very hard avoid branch favouritism
-You can hold your breath and choose one canonical ending with all pros and cons. (ex Dishonored)
Pro: It’s easier to write and some reader will approve your choice Con: you will make obvious branch favouritism and some reader will be upset
-You can make only a few effect for every ending relevant plot wise (ex. Mass Effect)
Pro: It’s the best compromise Con: It’s the hardest to write

Some other advises:
Ending and character import are not the same thing, so you can also write the sequel for another main character
If you want to write about the same MC don’t consider the “the hero dies ending”
If you want to choose a canonical ending I advise you to choose the Golden Ending (the best ending)
If your story has very important supportive comrades (the party, the ROs) who can die, replace them with placeholder character (same role and same basic line but with no soul) to encourage the readers to keep them alive


#15

Or replace them with more interesting characters to encourage the readers to kill everyone off in the first game! Aaaaaa ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!!!


#16

I’m with the ‘There’s no need to sacrifice anything.
If you know there’ll be a sequel treat the story as one big one, and the endings as mere story points that’ll come back together at one point.’ Crowd here.

“Sequels” that tell you your ending is the “wrong” one by ignoring or handwaving what has happened are but one thing: a clear sign we are dealing with a bad writer


#17

My take when a sequel in anything doesn’t a low me to play is asking for refund and back mouth that game forever.

It is directly an insult to player and to yourself as author Is saying. I let this happen but I am so lazy and bad planning that I would not waste my time in continue developed that play this totally railroad route instead due is that the only route I will bother to working right now. Thanks for your waste money.

I could understand what mass effec2 did if you did ax critical failure mission of course you can’t go 3 as you died


#18

I say, burn the world - maximum impact for choices in your first game, and force yourself to try something new in the next.


#19

Personal pet hate: series that all end in exactly (or almost exactly) the same way. It’s a real problem because it’s hard to give them meaningful differences without making it hard to continue the next one.

Couple of suggestions: Make it a difference that can be fairly resolvable before the next one by including a decent epilogue. For example you have a series of events that can be wrapped up in a scene but still provide a different ending. For example if you had a superhero type story, perhaps the MC was badly injured in the final battle for one ending and has to spend time in hospital recovering which takes a toll on the public’s perception of them since they seem to have gone MIA, in another ending they come out of it relatively unscathed, get all the acolades etc. By the time the next sequel comes around, they can be healed up and ready to go, but you could have some variable and stat changes remaining to remind the player of what happened last time without it derailing your next part.

Another option would be to have things happen that matter to the story at hand, but not so much to the next one in a episode like format.

Or you could have interchangeable type differences. For example if the hero saves a minor character, they reappear in the second book in some fashion, if they don’t, it’s a replaceable “similar but new” one.

Anyway, just my 2c. May not really matter since it seems as if many people don’t replay games anyway so I don’t know how much railroaded endings bother the main population of readers. I’d certainly go there, rather than make it an “only selected endings get a sequel.” IMO that’s asking for angry reviews from people who feel like “their” story hasn’t been written an ending.

(Edit: IMO each game in a series should ideally be able to stand on its own, so you get a conclusion at the end of the first book, then the story starts up again and adds to the first in the second rather than leaving things feeling incomplete. That’s where I think epilogues or a conclusion chapter of some description can really help round things out, and then in turn allow the next book to start off again without too many problems unless you’ve allowed the story to branch too far afield.)

Someone’s been watching GOT I see :laughing:


#20

My approach is a cautious one, primarily because I’m maybe halfway through my first CS game and it may turn out that at the end (1) it’s hot garbage that no one would want a sequel to or (2) I’ll be so tired of that setting that I can’t work up the enthusiasm to write a sequel.

So, I’m choosing to hedge my bets. I’m writing enough supporting characters that there’s a familiar framework already in place should a sequel occur. Familiar faces always help me to slide back into a fictional world more easily.

The second thing I’m plotting for is to make this enough of a self contained story that no matter what end state the reader chooses, life will go on. My story has very high stakes for the MC, but ultimately the world will keep on spinning regardless of what they do in the end.

If a sequel does happen I’m still undecided if I’ll take a serial approach to it like an old pulp novel, or actually use the same world with a different MC (I have a vague outline for a vampire MC sketched out; Canadian vampires play a big off-screen role in the recent past in my book. Yes, it’s as weird as it sounds).