How do you feel about "Bad Endings" or 'Game Over' states


I’ll admit, i’m coming here right off a game that I dislike because of it’s use of these, so i’m a little heated.
I’m honestly making this post to vent some stress more than anything, but hearing other opinions sounds interesting as well.

I greatly dislike "Bad Endings"
So much so that i’ll go out of my way to avoid associating with developers or products related to them, encouraging my friends to avoid them as well

I personally feel like Bad Endings are a failure on the creator’s part.
Why would you purposely create a scenario that results in an intended unsatisfactory result for your audience.

Whenever I run across a game that does this kind of thing it really gets my knickers in a twist

I put time and effort and even emotional investment into something but because I didn’t make some arbitrarily correct choices, i’m left with a terrible ending, or randomly getting hit by a car, or the person I was most interested in turning out to be the Dread God Nyarlathotep all along.

It’s nothing but a complete disappointment to the viewer and they feel cheated and that their time was wasted

You wouldn’t read 700 pages of a book to end on "and then they all died"
and you wouldn’t watch 2 hours of a movie for it to suddenly fade to black

I legitimately cannot fathom why people create such a thing in their games

Resources for stat balancing

I dislike these kinds of endings myself because I think it also takes away from the overall enjoyment of the complexity in the story. People invest themselves in a story to see the variations in the narrative that can be teased out. That’s why I don’t believe in bad endings. I believe in alternative endings. “Bad” endings imply that the reader made some choices somewhere along the way that the author didn’t approve of, but for some reason, those choices were include for the mere sake of doing so.

This is why the Chaos system in Dishonored and Dishonored 2 was a sour pot for me, if you have ever dabbled in that franchise. I’m not going to say anything else on this game’s mechanics for the people that haven’t played the game yet. But if you have played through it, then you probably understand where I’m coming from.


I don’t mind bad endings as I have found some games “bad endings” much better than the good ones or “true” endings (and bad endings are subjective to the gamer).

In fact I hate true endings in multiple choice games as you have to follow a believed right pattern and I think this distracts players from making their own choice in games. Not to forget arguments over what is canon starting when technically all choices can be considered “canon” in multiple choice games.

What I don’t like is game over for making a wrong choice or not being good enough in my stats. This I feel is lazy. When I think a good developer who really is trying to give choice will include your lower stats or bad choice as a factor and the game will still progress, catering to how you played it.


Bad ending and Deaths?

:kissing: ~~ :notes:

On a serious note, I think I know where you’ve been since it seems you’re so furious about this kind of ending :laughing:

I also dislike bad ending and dead-ending, but there’s one particular game where they handle the dead-ending rather… interestingly. I was trying to go for my best and put my effort to, at least, avoid the depletion of the HP bar, but when I do get one of the dead-ending, I was like, “What? Did they really write it that way?”

So what the author did is to manually write different death scenes for all possible dead-ending scenarios.
It makes me wanna try to die everytime, instead :joy:


They are ridiculously hard to do well, especially in Choicescript. My personal take is that most authors, unless they know what they are doing, should avoid them.

Paradigm City has a few and typically demonstrate where I think games can put them safely. Towards the beginning, often under hard circumstances, where the player will not have to do-over too many screens (making them more of an easter egg than anything). You can also put them towards the end, but covertly signpost the decisions that will lead to the Game Over failure state – if a player chooses them, it’s on them.

Originally Paradigm City had more, often as the result of botching a stat check, but they felt cheap and testers did not like them. So, I cut them all. There was one in Chapter 1, one in Chapter 3, one in Chapter 4 and one in the final chapter.

Alter Ego has an infamous one when the player is in childhood. You’re walking down a street and a car pulls up ahead of you. You have three options: investigate, stand still, or run away. If you don’t pick run away, that’s it, game over.

I think authors who want to have multiple game over states throughout their CS game should also code something of a checkpoint system. So, if the player dies, they can skip back to the start of a given ‘scene’. Or maybe just to the decision point immediately prior.


Oh, yeah, definitely this.

Feel free to troll your readers, but don’t be a total jerkass :angry:


You are a level 1 meh. Yes, meh. Your character is class is a "meh."
You are about to attack a level 9999 Supreme Overpowered Boss (SOB).

Are you sure you want to do this?

(Player picks yes because they think the narrative can’t possibly be interrupted by bad decisions.)

Guess what happens?


I agree… To a point. I’m not a fan of the “you fall down a cliff and die. The end” but that comes under instadeath, not bad ending in my opinion. You can have bad endings that are complete that can be ok imo.

(I’m kind of hoping I’m not alone in thinking that as most of the endings in Oedipus Rex I just finished aren’t ‘good’)

I’d avoid watching any of the blackadder series if you don’t like-and then they all died endings. I think they work but that’s just me :slight_smile:


Those aren’t necessarily bad, however if the game seriously forced you to end it there then that’s definitely a problem

A checkpoint system is definitely the best workaround for that. In XoR, there was a scene where I had my character go through the roof and literally killed everyone(including himself) in a blind rage. And then I got some complimentary game over.
However, I did get a choice to go back to the start of the chapter and replay from there which helped tremendously. But the system was still pretty flawed in my opinion because a chapter in XoR is painstakingly lengthy, so a better save system would be optimal


Bad ending, if done well, can be actually fun and entertaining. I know from experience playing “The Letter”, that I much enjoy the “alternate”/“bad” to the “true” ending. For my WIP, I know that at one or two points that I’ll have an area of the game in which the MC will possibly die, or, through the actions of the MC, end up having someone killed.

I feel like it cheapens the game and story if you baby the player and give them a free pass no matter what horrible or rash decision they make. If you’re doing something to get killed? You’re going to die.

Yes. I’m going to go and make my MC face the psychopathic guy over there with the pointy knife that’s been chasing after me trying to kill me while I have nothing to defend myself with and expect to walk away safe and sound…” Not going to happen.

Anyways, other than that, I do believe a checkpoint system is an amazing thing to have if done correctly. Again, if a character death leads to one of the endings, I don’t believe that a checkpoint is needed. You’re just cheapening the authors work and time they put into writing the scenes by adding something like that.

Now, for skill checks midway through the story that doesn’t lead to a canon ending? Sure. A checkpoint would be awesome.


I dislike it when the game tells you that you got a bad end. In games which have “true endings” or alternate endings, telling a player that the ending they got was a bad ending seems to be saying that the player failed in some sort of objective. Likewise, I think bad ends are only “bad” if the player is unsatisfied, or if the game actually calls it out as such.

You could end the game early in awesome ways. This, I feel, is a better use of the early end.

Bad ends can be fun. I remember a game which had 38-ish bad ends, a true end, and another good end, and only after getting every bad end could you get the true end and the good end. It became a quest to die in the most interesting ways possible, which was extremely satisfying to do at the time. Unfortunately, I think that game is not available on app stores anymore.


I feel that bad ends and game overs are awful design. They’re something that should be in a visual novel(where the author has an adamant idea of how things should go), not in interactive fiction. Nothing enrages me more than my point of view character dying in a pointless way. What’s the point? Why did I bother reading or playing the product if there’s no satisfactory dramatic story? If it just stops because I chose “wrong”, then I didn’t have a choice in the first place, because the author had graded my choices as good and bad(arbitrarily) and had chosen not to produce worthwhile content for some of them. They shouldn’t have included the choice to fail in the first place if they indeed think that it’s failing.

It’s not me who chooses something stupid, it’s the author who’s stupid for including content that’s just there to insult the player.

So, in short, I feel quite strongly about the matter. :wink:


Not every story has to end well. In fact, especially with Hollywood Movies, there’s too much of a trend to force a happy ending in the belief that this is more satisfactory than a sensible ending. Rogue One was a damn good movie in part because the writer had the freedom to kill off almost all the characters introduced in the story because it was a prequel and the audience knew that none of the protagonists would go on to play a major role in the war henceforth. And it made for one hell of an impact. Moreso than Pacific Rim where after everything established in the story there’s no sensible way the movie could have ended well, much less with both protagonists surviving. And don’t get me started on Suicide Squad.

That said, it’s not okay to penalize the player of a game for not being clairvoyant and having the right combination of arbitrary stats to be able to finish the game. If a stat isn’t potentially relevant to the solution of a game it shouldn’t be in there or clearly discernible as non-essential.


I think bad endings can be a good thing in shorter novels, so that people are willing to replay them. A good example is the game Swamp Castle. The bad endings encourages the player to learn from their mistakes and develop new strategies.


I don’t feel cheated when my protagonist fails in a ChoiceScript game, any more than I would if my character died in any other computer game. As far as I’m concerned, the risk of failure is an essential part of the gaming experience, and a game would be dull without it.

My only caveat is that failure should be a credible consequence of the protagonist’s actions and the choices they’ve made, rather than the writer arbitrarily punishing the player for making choices that they dislike. And multiple paths to victory are generally a good thing, even though not every choice needs to lead to success.



I disagree here, really. I think death scenes are kind of needed; risk of failure is a very vital part of investing people into stories. When everything can go fine and dandy even if you make every single wrong choice possible, it pulls me out of a game more than dying because I did something stupid.

That being said, I consider death scenes and bad endings two different things, and I do vastly prefer the latter over the former. To me, a death scene is just when the MC dies, and a bad ending is when all the choices you’ve made culminates into an ending that, frankly, isn’t a very positive experience for the MC.

I plan on my WIP having both, but it likely will have more bad endings than it does death scenes.


basically this exactly. the whole joy of interactive fiction is found in the choice given to the player - if there is no weight to these choices, and every choice guarantees the player is safely heralded to victory, the choices presented suddenly become a lot less significant.


I really, really dislike them.
Before I started playing CoG’s games, I was addicted to Delight Games (I hope it isn’t against the rules to mention another gaming company here :sweat_smile:) because it was the first compiled of multiple-choices games I found after playing Alter Ego (plus, the games were free, so…). However, it didn’t last, because I soon realized that DG’s games were more linear than non-linear. I started to die almost in all decisions I took, I started to think the next screen I’d see would be the text “you sneeze, get a pneumony and die.”, because, really, that was extreme. Using the already given example of Alter Ego, if you have 3 options and 2 leads you to your death, the game doesn’t actually give you a choice, it starts to get too linear.
But don’t get me wrong, I agree that if you make an obvious bad choice you should probably die in most cases in a game. It doesn’t make sense to make enemies with half world and not being attacked by them later. I also don’t mind alternative endings, they can be fun and even better than the “true” or “good” ending. My problem is that a huge number of people seems to get more fun creating games where there’s 1 way to survive and the other 50 you die, there’s no alternative way, and still call it multiple-choice. A good example of a fun game where you have to chase the good and true endings are the trilogy of Zero Escape. Even when you pick the “wrong” routes, it still the right ones, because you can find out more about the characters, information that you wouldn’t get on the true or normal route (in some games you even have to get all of them to get the true ending because of those information), so it’s fun to get all of them even if you die before getting the true or good endings.
The good point about Delight Games is the checkpoint tho (alhtought at some point it didn’t even matter anymore, I just didn’t have the stats the game consider I should so pretty much any option I took ended up killing me). My major problem with bad endings isn’t the act of dying, but playing a 500,000 words game and having to start it all over again because of 1 decision that went wrong. The best thing of WiPs are the possibility to save the game, even with the ocasional bugs. I really wish the finished games had at least a checkpoint option.


I would like to draw a very distinct line between a bad ending, and a game over. I have absolutely nothing against the idea of a game ending prematurely, nor with it ending on a ‘bad’ note. As long as it is a well thought out ending that you get, and not just some game over screen.

It’s a matter of “Your stats were too low, so you died” versus you “You should have killed or pacified character xyz when you had the chance”. I think the latter can be a story in its own right. If you can look back on your adventure and see where and how you went wrong, well, let me say only that tragedy is a genre and not every good story has a happy ending!

If the loss is my loss, and it’s had as much care and thought gone into it as the “true” ending(s), then I personally think it’s an experience I am likely to enjoy. Honestly, if I ever get around to finishing something, I wouldn’t be surprised if the “true” ending for that had sad undertones. For me it often makes it a lot more real.

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I’m not a fan of a game over bad ending that stops the story before it’s really over. Especially because CS games often don’t have check points or saves.

A choice, or series of choices that lead to a complete story with a tragic ending I’m perfectly happy with. I might even prefer it.