How would you feel about a "bad end warning"?

In Tally Ho, which I’m just finishing up, I have a way that the MC could have a bad ending about 7/8 through a long, long game. How would you feel about a choice that was set up like this:

#“All right, I agree,” I say with conviction.
#“All right, I agree,” I say, lying.
#“Absolutely not. I refuse to betray her.” (Note: this choice will end this narrative here, offering a tragic conclusion.)

This choice shows up if the MC has gotten themselves into a real bind, with no way out other than to work with a foe.

Would that annoy you, or would you appreciate the fair warning?


I would appreciate the warning, partly because I like tragic endings when nicely executed (the ending, not the character, although maybe that too) so I might be interested in the option for that reason alone. I also don’t prefer having to unexpectedly replay long, long games to get to an all-the-way-through ending.

But I do feel like I’m often in the minority about these things hereabouts (being an interesting loser is fun!) so maybe don’t listen to my opinion here, or at least include copious salt.

So excited for Tally Ho!


I can’t speak for everyone but that would personally annoy me.

A tragic conclusion is a valid conclusion, It should be something that feel as natural as any other aspect of the game. And it kinda defeats the purpose of it if you add a “warning: don’t go there”.

The only exception to this is if that conlusion could come out of nowhere if that was something where I would go “What the hell Game?”. But I think you should avoid this type of scenario either way, the readers should be able to deduce for themselves that a particular action can lead to bad consequences.


How avoidable is getting into that kind of bind?

I would rather get a warning than have my game suddenly end, especially a very long one, but I would also feel pretty annoyed with this kind of non-choice. If it’s like a special ending that I have to really hunt for that’s one thing, but I don’t wanna make a couple mis-steps and then have the game tell me I have to either take this route or just give up and start over


Honestly I would like that myself, I hate bad endings personally, there is far too much tragedy in real life for me to want it in my games :stuck_out_tongue:


It’s not very easy to get to that point. First someone has to get imprisoned, then you have to decide to attempt a rescue, then you have to fail a few times to rescue them, and finally you are captured yourself.

Maybe I should just make the skill tests a bit easy there.


I’ve thought about something like this for my WIP, Rainvale (shameless plug), because a lot of the time getting a bad ending is really demoralizing for me, especially if I get it on my first playthrough, it really puts me off playing it again. I’ve got around it by making sure that there is no bad ending, but if I were to make one then I’d probably signpost it, though perhaps not so explicitly.


I love tragic endings, believe me. That’s exactly why I don’t feel entirely comfortable with this idea. Part of what makes tragedies work is creating a feeling of injustice, creating a moment that gives some sense of hope and then destroy it. If you add a warning, what hope is there to loose?

I know it can be frustrating as some others have said above. But I’m sure that there are less explicit ways to make the players consider that a choice can lead to a bad conclusion. Something that is communicated through the narrative.

Now, this is intersting:

Is the person who is imprisoned a good person? is the Mc partly responsible for that person getting captured in the first place?
If the answer to both questions is yes, the tragic ending could feel as something totally expected and legit.


The answer to both questions is yes, but I’m still a bit nervous about it, because I feel that the bad ending is a bit more tragic than the comic romp that most of the game is.

Maybe I will put a special request for my beta testers to tell me if it feels out of genre.


The main reason to give players a bad ending warning is if you’re being way too strict with skill tests. This is can make the player feel like their being railroaded into answering things a specific way, depending on what their character class is if they don’t enjoy failing constantly all over the place. The Hero of Kendrickstone suffers a lot on this in that it is easier to fail than succeed such that I want to like that one far more than I do.

However if I get a bad ending just because I’m supposed to rescue someone but instead of sneaking in at night ninja style while the enemy is asleep as that’s what my character is good at that I decide I’m just going to go through the front door at tea time and shoot everyone that gets in my way when I specifically gave myself poor combat skills, then I deserve to get a bad ending just for being stupid.

Also bad endings should be just a satisfying as the good ones. There’s a game I’ve played where one of the bad endings is getting eaten by seals in a way that is fairly hilarious - haven’t seen it myself (and not for lack of trying on my part) as it was something I only read about while looking up how to get one of the bad ending / fail achievement that I was failing to get… got the achievement, still no seal death.


Just have a setting to turn on or off spoilers somewhere in the stats menu, so the reader can get the warning if they want to, or not.


How easy would it be to enable or disable bad ending warnings at the start of the game? I can definitely see the benefit of having a warning (especially for convenience… good Lord don’t ask me about the times I got up to my neck in a game only to have to restart over this) but I also understand people wanting to be surprised. Personally, I don’t have much of an opinion on tragic endings - individual ones, absolutely, but as a whole there’s too many different ways to go about it for me to say yay or nay about them in general.

ETA: somehow I managed to not see Carlos.R’s post for the time I spent writing and rewriting this post :sweat_smile:


Maybe instead of a note have a ‘you have the worst feeling about this’ or something ? and maybe you can add a secret ending/achievement here with a good combo of stats that lead to something unforeseen?


I like the idea of having something like a confirmation-required choice, where there are multiple opportunities to back out of a bad decision (also that whole article is really good). Basically have multiple prompts in a sequence for the player to confirm that it’s the choice they want to make. With that, there’s no need for an out-of-universe warning.


I would dislike it as an explicit author aside in the choice itself, but have a high tolerance for in-game text which makes it crystal clear that picking a certain path will kill you.


From experience, most players seem to back away from options guarded by an additional “are you sure?” choice. You could even lay it on thick by hinting at the bad consequences there. I think people would find that more natural than getting all meta about their narrative experience.


A “good” tragic end only works if the player feels it is the MC’s role to have a tragic ending. A hero dying to save the world could be acceptable to some people or someone may want to save the world and live.

I prefer for tragedies to mainly impact NPCs like in The Walking Dead Game or the Cinderella Phenomenon Dark path. Sometimes the game gets too sad if the MC’s life/world sucks so bad that suicide is the best option like in Aloners or Airis. :sob:

Just make the tragic ending feel complete. Maybe with an epilogue, so people can feel satisfied about it.

I would like to be warned about bad endings because it is a hassle to play through the entire game again to make one different choice and I might not want to replay if the ending was poorly done. It’s kind of bad if a game has random insta deaths.

You can make a death warning an optional choice, but don’t label it spoiler warning. A spoiler could be anything and could possibly ruin some great plot twist or something.


Can’t you have it written in the text before the choice? Something like this:

you have a feeling that if you don’t at least pretend to play along it will end in tragedy.

Also I agree with Tyshee that if you feel the need to warn the readers then maybe you need to be more lenient with your skill check leading up to it - more so if it’s a comedy. You can make the tragedy ending so difficult to get that only those who goes looking for it can find it and so that it is easy to avoid on repeating playtroughs.


I don’t mind bad endings, but if they’re sudden, a do over is appreciated which is usually not hard to do if it’s just after the choice happens. I would prefer that to a warning


It depends, I do not mind a bad ending as long as it has a good or funny, depending on the story type, reason for being there. A warning can throw me out of the story. But that is just me :smile:

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