I am not sure if tragedies would fit into the CoG category; I have heard several thoughts on this matter already, but I am still uncertain which view is more correct.

For those who say that there should be no tragedies in CoGs, their main point appears to be that tragedies always end in the (sadly flawed) hero dying, no matter what choices you make, which would take the fun from the game, or worse, reduce the game into a mere storybook.

However, as some of us seem to think, everyone loves a good tragedy. If a CoG were to provide different storylines that all lead to the same ending, would it be considered as a game with choices or just a story?

That is where those who seem to be fine with the idea come up with their points. A CoG is a quality gamebook; and a gamebook is a book. And books may consist of tragedies, which is why, provided that there are choices that affect the storyline, it doesn’t matter if the hero of the story can never win against the forces of evil or becomes evil, as long as it is a good story.

I’m just hoping for more views before I start the project in earnest, so I can move on to other ideas if it becomes apparent that tragedy-CoGs are not popular.

And I am not posting this in the WiP section for several reasons: Chiefly, that there isn’t so much work as ideas to progress upon yet, and secondly because I am uncertain if a tragedy may be a CoG yet.


A tragic CoG might not be broadly popular, but I think it would be a terrific idea.

And you could still have multiple endings, it’s just that none of them would be victories – the choice between a bad death and a death that means something, perhaps.


I see no problems with a tragic CoG, or why it should be classed differently to other genres of CoG.


I would really play one of those. Shakespeare’s tragedies were always more gripping than their comedic counterparts.

The only problem is, that’s such a broad term.

What happens in the storyline? Because I think it would have to lead up to the ending.

Just squeezing a sad ending into a mostly happy game would seem… Forced.

All in all though, good idea.


Like every tragedy, you are a hero… With a fatal flaw that leads to your downfall. In my plans, you have three flaws; A desire for vengeance, a gift for sticking your nose where it doesn’t belong, and a flaw of your own choosing, to be revealed at the end of the game.


I really don’t see how not being able to “win” is any worse than not being able to “lose” and I’ve seen a few writers making CYOAs which don’t contain any way to die/lose which I don’t particularly care for. If I can’t lose/die horribly in a CYOA then its usually just dull. (There are always exceptions.)

I say go ahead and make your tragedy story. Even if there is no “winning” ending, remember there are still different ways to “lose.”

Maybe you don’t save the love of your life, but you manage to save the kingdom from demons, but the protagonist is horribly depressed and commits suicide over their grief.

Maybe you save the love of your life, but you fail to save the kingdom which results in the long term of demons overrunning the world and eventually you (and your love) are going to be killed by them in the following years.

Or maybe you make a deal with the forces of darkness to save yourself, but only to be enslaved and routinely abused by a demon king for all eternity.

You’ve got three endings right there that are all tragic yet different. In one you even manage to defeat the forces of evil. In another you manage to live.

Really in the scheme of things its up to the reader what they consider a “win” or not. I’ve written stuff where some have preferred other premature endings rather than the “epilogue endings.” That’s cool with me, whatever they find more enjoyable.


I already stated my thoughts on tragedies as relates to CoGs in the “Happy Endings” thread, so I’m not going to repeat myself here. It all boils down to execution–like anything else, so I’m going to say the Nike slogan “Just do it”.


When I started writing 'Sabres of Infinity", one of my objectives was to make the story viable not just for multiple play styles, but for multiple conceptions of your main character. As such, the Dragoon Officer can be played as a male power fantasy action-hero type, a trickster, silver-tongued devil or a callous villain.

However, above all, I wanted the player to have the ability to play the main character as a tragic hero.

There are a lot of ways to get yourself killed in SoI, many of them are caused by either heroic flaws or overextension of classic virtues. A surfeit of bravery becomes foolishness. trust can get you killed, as can a tendency towards complete pragmatism. However, the darkest of the multiple bittersweet epilogues you can get, based on action bourne from either entirely noble justifications or sheer self-preservation is set as the conclusion to a tragedy.

I’d like to think I did a good job, but the important thing is that approached from a reader’s point of view, the story still has a conclusion, only it is that of a tragedy as opposed to a standard military fiction. I’d kind of like to see more of “bad endings” portrayed as tragic endings as opposed to complete failures. That way, the player gets some payoff from their time spent as opposed to an empty feeling in the pit of their stomachs.


I am trying to make a story that only has tragic, hollow endings… A little different from heroic deaths.


@Wyrmspawn …dark…


What I’m saying is, so long as you can make the reader feel as if they’ve received enough “payoff” for what they’ve put in, you’ll be fine. It doesn’t matter how tragic the endings are.

The problem with “hollow” endings is that they come off feeling cheap unless you take a lot of care in how you build it up.

Personally, I say go for it. If the endings don’t feel right, this community will tell you. If they do, they’ll tell you. I can’t think of anything better than that.


Okay, thanks for all the advice.


I’d say you should try it. The thing about tragic game endings is that unlike other forms of media, it’s really hard for the player to detach him/herself from the player-character. Most of us play games with a win-lose mentality and when there is no way to win (or get the ending we want), many of us are going to feel cheated. Hm. Every time this kind of topic is brought up, it makes me think of Mass Effect. :stuck_out_tongue:


I have to agree with @Cataphrak, I said I wasn’t going to repeat myself by stating what I already did in the “Happy Endings” thread, but it’s kinda’ unavoidable now to get my point across here. XD

The entire point of a good tragedy is while the tale may end tragically, it winds up being a reflection or representation of the human spirit one way or another. And by that I mean it reflects the endurance of the human spirit being able to overcome–at least for a time–immense adversity, even if it ends poorly; which in turn enables the reader to feel a sense of pride for the character, while also mourning and feeling empathy for the character for having followed them along through all their hardships, thereby the reader winds up gaining a kind of “stiff upper lip” in response to tragic end. Because as we all know and very likely experienced while there are high and low points in life, once one hits a low point–there isn’t always an up swing to get back to a high point again, some times when getting knocked down… sadly… you stay down. That’s just part of the cruelty and unfairness of life everyone has experienced.

My largest issue is when some see that there’s an over-abundance of “happy endings” in stories, they get this notion or misconception that having a tragic/sad ending they’ll be avant garde by aiming to have the most dismal ending they can think of; which that is not a true tragedy, that’s just something created purely for shock value (and personally just makes me roll my eyes in reaction). The point of a tragedy is to grant some level of showing of the human condition, but something just there for shock value or a “hollow ending”, which essentially means the ending is empty, then what exactly does it have to offer? Not even to the reader but to the narrative itself. Such an ending just screams of the very issue I take with some who try to go for the most “shocking” or “disturbing” ending they can come up with merely out of a silly sense of rebellion against the “happily ever after” endings out there. Which isn’t ever a good reason to write any type of story for that affect alone. Because then it becomes predictable and has little point outside of trying throw a jab at the reader.


I think this info useful for me. and i agreed Apillis views

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I don’t think Tragedies are when only the hero dies.

Here’s how I would plot out a sad ending to a Choicegame:

Maybe most of the beloved characters will die, but the few that survive will be defined by the MC’s choices through out the previous events. Maybe you were a small Organization or Gang? And things were going through the roof but it went into shambles? Most would die but a few would survive, to me this is a tragedy itself because most of of your dearest friends are dead, your gang/Organization are dead, and their are only a few grief stricken others left.

That won’t be able to build your beloved group again.

So you will have to go your separate ways, always thinking about ‘What if?’ and all that sort. It really depends on the Author though, but my personal favorite have been Bitter-Sweet endings.


Actually, as defined by literature, a tragedy is where a hero with all the qualities to succeed fails because of a flaw. Take the famous Scottish Play as an example. Macbeth was a great hero who eventually tore the kingdom apart and died because of his flaw: ambition.

I’m hoping for something like that to appear in my CoG. So far, there is only one ending planned, but there are many, many paths to reach that ending; to give a feel of fate determining the course of the hero no matter what you do.

In my opinion, anyway, a tragedy can be a sad story or a story of a heroic sacrifice; but the best tragedies show just how powerless we really are over things like fate, Nature, Divine Interventions. Tragedies are supposed to make us feel like pawns in the midst of a battle of gods.

And @trollhunterthethird, Don’t worry, my tragedy involves at least 5 deaths if people you know of and, no matter what you choose, you will kill your only friend with your own hands.

And @Appilis, sorry to disappoint you, but I won’t be putting the theme of human capacities to adapt in this work of mine; it is mainly centered around the human capacity for hatred.

Although I fully agree with your other point that a “tragic” ending put into a story just for shock value is distasteful, so don’t worry, I’m not writing a tragedy just to rebel against happy ever after stories.


Tragic elements can really add to a story, just don’t make it overly and constantly depressing.

Maybe there are good and bad endings for example, that would be absolutely fine, interesting even. You just don’t want people to play the game and think nothing but “This is too depressing to bother with”.


@Wyrmspawn I never said anything about the human capacity to adapt, I stated flatly the human capacity to endure and reflect the human condition, there’s an immense difference. You look at the Shakespearean tragedies, and the remaining character at the end is forced to learn to do just that after all they experience and/or bore witness to. Hatred and vengeance is all well in good, it was those two traits coupled with severe narcissism and obsession that lead to Hamlet’s own downfall in his quest for revenge against his uncle. By the conclusion of it all it’s only Horatio left standing, whom serves as the audience’s conscience in a way, and states that the world needed to be told of what transpired so it may learn from the tragic figures’ story.


All right, lets not debate about the nature of a game that isn’t even created yet. Just give me a month or so to finish the codes before the debates start; I’m totally clueless when it comes to coding, so it takes a long time for me to put a game together.