'Small' endings vs 'Big' ones, which do you prefer?

When it starts big. A “big” plot needs a “big” buildup in tension, and unless the game is giving 300,000 readable words per playthrough (which would require what, five or six million words total, including code?) there isn’t enough content to start small and build all the way up to the grand scale.


There is if author are made sagas. As @Cataphrak or @Havenstone that’s the only way to make a big deep game about politics, religion wars etc. You can’t in 150,000 or 300,000 alone it will feel rushed


I enjoy being able to make big changes to the world if it fits with the game. Haven’t played The Martian Job yet, but my favourite CoGs start out on a smaller scale and grow in scope and consequences through the game. I don’t think I’ve played one where the stakes seemed too grow too much - I like the progression.


Hmm. Just curious, but is it the same preference as to when it comes to Marvel’s “everyone trying to destroy planet Earth”?

I love stories that go BIG after a build-up. But that’s the thing: With Baroque I felt like said built-up was missing.
Compare it if Fallen Hero or CCH, or Aetherfall or Heart of the House:
There’s built-up, you know something big will be coming, you’ve been working towards it. There’s a constant ‘there’s more’ feeling.
When a game puts the world at stake out of left field and goes ‘only you can save it’ there’s (to me) a sense of disconnect.

A different example is Hero Unmasked. The ending stays remotely small, but there’s the sense that it will become bigger unless you stop it. (I’d use another game as additional good example, but that one’s not out yet)


Many people prefer it big n’ juicy. I’m content with small ones. Less work. Same satisfying result.

On a serious note…

I think for a long game with nearly 1,000,000 words or so. The plot better be ass-big with many subplots to keep the reader entertained. Smaller games that tend to press the conflict more than it really is, seems pretty pointless to me since there is a set objective to accomplish. After that, what’s next? Some authors try to incorporate more content past the main conflict like defeating the big bad, and turns out there’s an even more OP big bad (Supposedly). But it is endgame and you probably have a finished stat line and can curbstomp them with a simple set of choices making it a severely underwhelming plot twist. Or your MC gets their ass handed to them and blacks out making the reader feel like it’s inevitable. That the first part of the story spent preparing for the final obstacle was wasted, and that time could’ve been spent elsewhere. When authors try to bite off more than they can chew that’s when it goes downhill.

Games with smaller plots can be rather bland and have little replayability which is why the choices must be an absolute priority of differences. Authors who make bigger plots and stories have the leisure to throw in flavor text and options that don’t really matter except at certain points where you, the reader, are exposed to part of the conflict. A way to remedy this is to separate your game into portions (series) if you don’t think you can handle it in one book without retconning to much and turning your reader off. Honestly, having a small plot to work with, where you can finish everything you need the reader to know to set up for the next book where you can go all out may be easier for you. I don’t know, everyone is different.

OP I don’t think your issue is the size or how grand the plot is. But how poorly and rushed it is written that overwhelms you at once.


Personally, I do not care much if an ending was “big” or “small”. What I do care about is that the ending does fit in with the overall plot of the story that I read through and tie up all loose ends that has been popping out throughout the story, unlike that Hero Project game.


I like both big and small endings, but I usually wince when I see “start a revolution and topple X” in the bulleted list. What that says to me is that the game has an unsatisfyingly shallow revolution plot, or will interrupt whatever the main plot is when I’m not playing a revolutionary to try to convince me to be one, or both.

And… well, this is something I’d like changed but know other people would probably hate being changed so I’m not going to insist, but a lot of the time in those games I run into choices where I’m vaguely annoyed an option is being offered. When I play a loyalist the whole game and get to the climax, I don’t want to even have an option to suddenly join the rebellion that I’ve previously at most not actively turned over to the authorities. It’s not just that I don’t want to take it, I don’t feel like it even makes sense to be able to. Especially when the climax is some kind of external threat; it doesn’t feel believable that my character would even consider the possibility.

That’s not a request for a change; I really wouldn’t want to take the option away from any player who does take it, but it feels as out of place as if a romance game had an option to go to the bar, go to the dance floor, or set the building on fire. Except if I got that option there’s a chance I’d take it because I want to know where this goes.


Where do you like to be “locked into” a character trajectory in terms of what choices are offered–about halfway through, even earlier, or just not in the climax?

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YES If my character says five times in a row that doesn’t care rebellion and only want steal money and be famous. I wnt stop receiving choice fter choice after speech WHY DON’T YOU JOIN OUR FIGHT? character doesn’t want that.

it feels cheap and like game is trying to FORCE me down a path


Yeah, five times is a lot. I would like it if one of those turncoat choices is phrased something like “Abruptly, the truth dawns on you. You are one of the rebels after all.”

Something that acknowledges the about-face would be nice in the choice text.


I actually like it when I’m able to make a choice that’s out of character near the end of a story. To use your example…If after an entire game of remaining loyal to the state even in light of the abuse of power or whatever else, the climax of the story also being the moment when I’ve seen one crime too many and have to finally reject them could be a very satisfying moment.

That’s really what an ending needs to be (for me). Satisfying. All the threads of the plot have to come together in the climax, and be somehow resolved. Every ending I’ve ever hated has either been one that left too many threads hanging, or one that separated the resolution from the climactic moment.


Sincerely if that hapens I would being in rage for eternity Like that
Joing us NO



You would rage just being asked it as one of the choices?


No specific answer, really; it’s just that I always want to feel like all the options that aren’t greyed out make sense as the next step of the story so far. With the rebellion as a subplot, if my character has been basically ignoring it to focus on the main plot, what would make them reconsider at the exact moment the main plot is most urgent? That’s an answerable question, so it’s not an invalid choice to offer, but usually the times when it bothers me are when I’ve been playing a character who doesn’t even care about whatever’s motivating the rebellion.

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It depends how is asked . but normally yes. You are negating my agency if I say no in all the options in all dilogues with all ncs … you re trying hard railroad me to the path you think is better. Is a typical if error

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Late enough to have an idea what kind of conflict each trajectory may face, to choose between them. Early enough to avoid building tension in the “wrong” trajectory (thus sabotaging the trajectory actually chosen).

The end of the first act seems like a sensible time to do it, for narratives using a three-act structure. Introduce the setting. Meet the characters. Get a grasp of the motivations and goals in play. Hit the “inciting incident”, make (or rather finalize) a choice, and run with it. Something like that seems pretty good to me.

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Same here. And I think for me, the ending has to follow the progression of the story. For example…

The Martian Job: Spoilers

For my first playthrough, I played an ex-con main character who didn’t care about anything except for focusing on the job and getting money. The character didn’t care about politics or personal matters and spent time casing the casino and making sure the team worked well together in order to have a better chance at pulling off the heist. The ending I got fit the “meh” attitude perfectly insofar as I was back on Earth, I got paid, and didn’t give a crap about what anyone else was doing, lol. So, I liked that ending!


While I’m inclined to have the same gut reaction as the OP, I don’t think it’s a case of small-to-big in terms of initial plot to ending that explicitly causes an issue. Instead, maybe it’s an issue of organic or fluid development toward that ending.

A smaller, more enclosed setting or premise can grow to a larger scope as themes are introduced. Likewise, a large scale setting or premise can find itself becoming something of a character study that focuses on the struggles of a individual.

As long as themes are applied realistically and tone is kept consistent or steady, I think big or small endings can work.

Of course even then, billing something up as a heist and then offering such an ending certainly can give the reader genre whiplash. But given that summary and bullet points hint that there’s something more going on in this story, fair warning was given.

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When I see that bullet point in a story where it doesn’t merit top billing, my instinctive assumption is that it’s a story about whatever the initial blurb is and then a revolution story has been awkwardly stapled on. In particular, while I haven’t checked out the Martian Job at all, from the first paragraph of the email I’d be inclined to bring a character who is here for a combination of the money and the thrill of robbing a casino on Mars and who has no opinion whatsoever on local politics except insofar as they impact casino security and/or avaliable support. So unless they team up for a joint theft-spying strike said character would not likely even consider the question of who is in the right.

Though if the Mars’s Eleven includes several rebels and they make a good showing that could change matters.

It’s not a huge thing, but having the option presented says my character has an opinion on the subject, and sometimes I want to play a character who doesn’t.