Playing Games where the protagonist is forced to become the chosen one blah blah blah. The game usually assumes your character wants to bask in their victory and be the hero. And doesn’t give the player a say in it. But should they? If I’m forced to be the chosen one I’m NEVER going to stop being resentful and looking for an out. If I’m the worlds most powerful witch I’ll get a job at Aldi or Tesco. Because it’s a big middle finger to magic. Should players have the option to be boring after completing the main story’s mission?
It’s certainly an interesting question! Some stories definitely do the whole “save the world and then settle down (usually with a chosen love interest)” thing, but I think super hero genre and stories with chosen ones tend to lean towards being wish fulfillment/power fantasy which is why “boring” epilogues aren’t really commonplace.
Whether or not players should have the option really boils down to what kind of the story the author wants to tell and what kind of audience they’re appealing to. Although I personally do think it’d be pretty dope to save the world and then have people just run into my character packing bags at Fantasy Costco in the epilogue.
I kind of like the hero that faked his death and moved where his debt collectors aren’t likely to find him. But that might be because of the hilarity of a werewolf being scared of normies.
… Are we talking just heroes (in the typical fiction sense) or does this include folks that just happen to save the (noun here)?
They’re not boring, but I really like how Stronghold and Heroes of Myth deal with the aftermath of fantasy heroism. The City’s Thirst also does interesting things with the aftermath of cataclysmic events, though they’re less heroic!
I came across a story yesterday morning that had an interesting approach to the idea of the big heroic quest. Basically it was the story of the hero yesterday sunken into depression years after a Pyrrhic victory, getting pulled out of retirement for one last mission. It’s a branching thing but not really a game, there are all these little microbranches I was going through whenever I had a couple of minutes at work.
…I started typing up some spoilers but I’ll just link it here in case anyone wanted to look at it themselves. http://chooseyourstory.com/Story/When_The_Music’s_Over.aspx
It’s not very polished but it’s entertaining enough…I thought a lot more could’ve been done with it, but it’s had me thinking of similar ideas all day. There is no such thing as a true happy ending after all, and so many of the heroic events in these games would leave our characters scarred and everything around then I ruins.
One idea I keep thinking on is how often stories end with the good guys winning a devastating war…but it’s not like the damage to a nation or kingdom can be undone just like that. The aftermath would be starvation and suffering and mental and physical wounds that would take years to heal from during the slow rebuilding of everything else.
I think it all depends on the author, and how much did they think about the ending in general. I mean a lot of endings are pretty much…standard cliche stuff. But that is because i believe they consider story to be more important…and ending is …meh.
Personally my idea when it comes to what i am doing is, write additional book that shows the aftermath and have the reader go through it. Rather then just…tossing a single page in a face.
I doubt i could put all details in such a limited space. So, hey, easier to make additional book.
The idea of having a seperate book about the aftermath sounds interesting, maybe a shorter one with the lenght of a novel? That could help with the issue many games seem to have when it comes to the epilogue, which is either cramming too much in one chapter making it feel rushed, or just cutting things off too quickly making us feel like there is no ending.
Tho the problem I see here is about how you’d sell it. Or would you give that freely? I think it could lead to complaints if people would have to “pay extra just to get an ending”, if they buy another book they’d most likely expect a sequel not just an ending/conclusion to the already published game. Maybe a cheap prize could be satisfying for the people, but idk if that’d be satisfying for the authors. Also the description would have to make it perfectly clear what the continuation is about.
A link to a short story in a .PDF or something just offered for free at the end of a game would be a really nice touch and unexpected little bonus.
Although, when our characters can have so much variation in personality, let alone appearance and love interests, I’m not sure how a regular story would really work. It would have to focus more on the side characters and their fates perhaps?
Well, in most cases, if the character doesn’t want to be a hero there are two options
a)It goes on the quest regarless, which players don’t like “I say I didn’t wanted to go, but my character was forced to go, that’s bullshit”
b)Doesn’t go and there is no story to tell
It reminds me of RPG tables. The DM will give plot hooks but if you don’t take any, what do you expect to happen? 99% That’s a player’s problem, and in the 1% where it works it only works because in TTRPG you don’t have limits, in any other media it falls flat
UNLESS the story IS about the hero that doesn’t want to be a hero, but that a different story on itself, that would need a completely different work, so i don’t think is really viable from a “choice” point of view
I think SoH 4 did something like this. Unfortunately you spend most of the game away from your established set of adventure buddies so the stories are all set relatively around the same time as the game to catch up with the supporting cast.
Though it did cost an additional 2 something, since they were originally patreon tier rewards.
I think something similar could be done with a main characters epilogue but it would have to be pretty vague outside of the game changing choices. That is of course, if they don’t just decide to use the carryover mechanic we already have but for small extra content. (No idea if that’s a possibility though.)
I’ve always like the idea of epilogues to interactive fiction – the idea that even after the reader isn’t directly affecting the outcome, you can get a little closure on the lives of the characters you’ve (hopefully) become attached to.
One of the endings I have plotted out for my WIP is (spoilered for those who are actually reading the thing):
The MC, rather than trying to take down/join forces with the Big Bad instead says, “screw this, this isn’t my fight” and sneaks out of the country and changes their identity. In the epilogue, Agent Hancock of Unit Nine (sort of this world’s FBI, but they deal with magical creatures and mages) tracks the MC down in their self-imposed exile and fills them in on what happened in their absence and essentially asks, “Was it worth it, running away?”
My MC would say Yes. Depending on how well written/ Still living love interests are. ( lately i go into games with an Ace Aro mindset and let the game try to win me over with how well written the ROs are. I’m never going to romance a guy periodt. Even if my MC lives in a Medevil society where they’re expected to pop out a kid i refuse. So you have to really write a compelling character to get me to romance but i digress) I see two possible outcomes. One. My MC is living like my Save the Bay Life is Strange Fanfiction where she lives in the woods because she loved Chloe but had to let her die and it broke her heart so she she found a peace in the woods. Or if you kinda want to punish the player Ash vs The Evil Dead where he lives in an rv, works a menial job, smokes weed, drinks, and screws until the plot forces him back into action. If my MC ran away she’d tell the Agent. “I never asked to be a chosen one. I just wanted to live out a normal boring life. I’m content in my mediocrity.”
In this one RP I was involved in, at the final showdown with essentially the “Demon Lord,” my character died sacrificing her life for her lover. That left him alone, no wife, no child (My character was pregnant) and scarred by the passing of all his former companions (before my character’s final death at the end, they were the two last survivors out of a large party of adventurers) as well as the long years of war he fought. So while the war was technically over, in the chaos without the King and Queen who’d long since fallen and with demons rampaging through the kingdom, the “Chosen One” just…walked out. He’d had enough. They succeeded in their mission, but their lives were ruined in the process and the everyday lives of commoners were almost exactly the same if not worse. Demon attacks. Starvation. Plague. Uprisings. Thieves plundering the land. Etc. One of my favorite conclusions I’ve ever written for anything. I love tragic and/or otherwise subverted endings–endings that you wouldn’t see from the legendary hero, endings that make them more human. And while I’d never force players to have only fail states, I think the endings for a fail state should be just as impactful, interesting and worth the read as the “happy endings”. Especially in those games with such a long, epic build up like Save the World ™ stories.
Realized none of that answered your question though. I was too busy fangirling, my bad! Should players be given the option to be “boring”? Depends on your definition of boring, really. If it’s not investing and doesn’t make any sense for the world or characters, then perhaps save it for a different game. But if there is some kind of narrative or thematic payoff involved, then why not?
I don’t usually make stories with a protagonist as a “chosen one” though in the one case where he was, you had the option to “opt out” a few times (Not embrace destiny) and get different endings.
I don’t see an issue in the protagonist being boring after the main story is done, though it might depend on what exactly happened. If you were a chosen one that had to sacrifice yourself to save the world, well you wouldn’t be able to go work at Walmart afterwards. Lol
It should actually depend on the author’s story about how the “end” is develop.
It should not be necessary that the end is about saving the world by killing an Antagonist or joining the villains, or an end about sacrifice… too many stories are centered around tragic sacrifice which in the end , make it a bit typical.
Since this is a choice game, i would prefer a more variety of reasonable choice action that resolve a crisis … but the MC needs not being a holier-than-thou hero even if he does choose to save the world
I take an example from the Hero Rise series, i would like to have a choice of saving prodigal and let her get away unpunish after we save the world , so to speak… yeah, the MC may be a hero for saving the world , but the MC also make a difficult moral judgement by letting another villain get away out of love towards her , this should make the so called " happy ending" more shady but interesting nontheless
I don’t disagree that it depends on how the author is developing the story. I just think it shouldn’t come completely out of left field and should make sense woven with the rest of the story thus far. Even subversions still have expectations that when left unmet can leave the story lackluster, confusing, or otherwise unsatisfying at the ending.
I wasn’t trying to imply it should be absolutely necessary to have a tragic hero saving the world or anything. I was only saying that’s something I personally am a sucker for. I don’t think too many stories are centered around tragic sacrifice though as, well, no story is a completely fresh idea ever. It all comes down to reader preference and how it is written rather than what is being written.