What is important to you when it comes to the game ending?

So you’ve played through an interesting cyoa adventure and you’re finally starting the final chapter and you know the ending is near.

What is important to you for the ending to be satisfying, to make you sit back and think that was a great journey.

Is it solely tying up the loose plot ends? Finding out what happened to your favourite NPCs? Seeing the effect you’re actions have on the world after your final choice? What is important to you?

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I like seeing everything come together. I think endings are a great opportunity for an author to creatively showcase how all the side plots and the main plots are resolved. A satisfying ending, to me, also reflects the different choices the player made and what the consequences of those choices are.

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All of those, and also some sort of internal consistency (subjective), as in if the story thrives on twists, then twist ending is expected and fine. Otherwise surprise and unexpected endings can be hit-or-miss (ie Sixth Sense worked for me, but some relatively grounded scifi stories where outcome is “aliens” or “cthulu” or something would be jarring for me, I can’t pinpoint specific example right now; there is one recently finished WIP here - unnamed because I don’t want to hurt feelings - which somehow really blindsided me, it’s otherwise very well-written to me). I generally prefer expected endings (one related example being earned death is much preferred than cheap resurrection; superhero franchise depends on this financially, but it’s a turn-off for me). In worst cases of unexpected ending I even stopped caring for all the characters.

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I can, 10 Cloverfield Lane, what a weird ending…

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Continuity of the narrative. One that does this is the The Fleet, wherein all the endings highlight that the story continues even if the M.C is not central point of contact.

Highlighting the stats, what that person did well in and what that person did poor in and how reflects on the person’s characteristics.

A good final chapter should also allow for a joyous solitude ending, wherein the M.C is free from their responsibility and onus of what happens.

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That’s a really good question; I don’t think I’ve ever stopped to think about what makes a good ending for me. Having said that, I do know what frustrates me when I finish playing a game.

Did I get catharsis from playing it, or did I just hype myself up for nothing? That’s even more important if I’ve grown emotionally attached to the characters. Did the ending seem reasonable, considering the choices my character made and the context of the story? Did any of said choices have any real impact whatsoever in the ending the characters got, or would it be the same regardless of my MC’s personality?

Unless I finish the story with a “wait, that’s it?” feeling (in which case I just sit and mope, or complain about it to my sibling), I, personally, really enjoy playing the same game more than once, if only so I can see how the story would’ve panned out had the MC been bolder, flirtier, shyer, even crueller, sometimes. And, also sometimes, that only leads me to realize that the ending is standardized.

Loose plot ends aren’t necessarily bad, especially if the work is part of a sequel (I need to want to keep reading/playing, after all), but playing an entire story just to finish it with more questions than I started with can be… Annoying, I’d say. I like it when the ending makes me conscious of the choices I made, that they weren’t inconsequential, even if sometimes that means not everyone gets to be happy.

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I’ll second @trevers17 here, I like seeing everything come together: I want to know what happened to all of the characters involved, not just the MC, and how my different (major) choices came to fruition. I rather dislike–read: hate–stories that have lingering questions at the end unless it’s made clear that there’s going to be a sequel; it’s all right if the “main story’s” questions are answered but one or two are left danging for the sequel or potential sequel, but I hate getting to the end and going, “Wait, what about ___?” In other words, it’s all right if there are deliberately questions left unanswered for the future, but I don’t like it when it seems like the author just forgot to answer them.

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For me it’s always seeing how your choices affect it and how the NPCs end up. I also LIVE for epilogues. I love soft fluffy endings but I also like the endings where it doesn’t tie up loose ends and let’s you make your own assumptions as to what happens.

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You say it best yourself — a great game’s ending makes me sit back and reflect on the journey I embarked on and also be satisfied arriving at the destination.

Tin Star set a high bar for this long ago, and is still the standard I use to judge success or failure.

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Epilogues! Love me some epilogues in all media formats. That’s why I use them in my stories. It may be a bit surface and shallow, but that where are they now look always feels like it rounds out the overall experience. Either that or a good gut punch twist. If you have one of those, best to skip the epilogue for added dramatic effect.

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Personally, I think it’s okay to let an ending be short and sweet and/or go for an “and the adventure continues” sort of thing. I also agree that epilogues are nice in an interactive novel because they allow the player to wind down with the story, without having to worry about making a last minute decision that can make or break it for them.

To go off of that thought, I think it’s important that if you have an ending choice, like “Do you pick riches or true love?” then that decision needs to feel impactful. I’ve played games where the endings gave me options but didn’t really explore the implications of them, and that tends to leave them unfulfilling.

Finally, bittersweet ending are fine, but I’d advise against making every ending have a downside because realism or something. It’s incredibly frustrating to get an ending where I can have the job of my dreams and the romance of my dreams only for it to say, “No, you can’t have both.” Obviously that can work if it’s consistent with the plot and/or characters, I just mean you should avoid creating problems at the last minute to force a choice there. Of course, this applies in the opposite direction as well - if I feel like I screwed up the whole game and suddenly get a sunshine and rainbows ending, that’s going to feel contrived as well.

…Wow, that got wordy. Um, in short, consistency and depth good, last minute shakeups and shallow choices bad. :slight_smile:

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I agree with what most people have highlighted in earlier replies, however what motivates me to play the game again is the inclusion of prompts such as ‘I wonder if I could have done xxx differently’ or ‘Is it what I really wanted all along?’. I find it more appealing than tying every loose ends nicely with a bow, especially as a player, you want to be encouraged to wonder what would have happened if you had taken a different path!

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I’m not a big fan of ‘Ending’ and kinda stay away from ‘Epilogue’ .

Why? Because…

1- it mean it’s oveeeeeeer! Oh noo…so soon! It was so Good! I don’t want it to end! :sob:

2- When it’s short, it aint sweet . It’s very anticlimatic .

3- If it’s sudden (Some stories do that)…it leave you perplexed, then frustrate you .

4- If it is an epilogue, often there is no warning and it just happen. Happen to me once, and I clicked next and I was like ‘‘That was it??’’ . As for writing ‘Epilogue’, Oh gad…if your brain trick you into writing one, as it happen to me, then next thing you know…you are writing a sequel and you have that damn Epilogue like a troll sticking its tongue at you…and you gotta work around it! Grrrrrrr

A ending, is an ending that summarize all the feeling . Make you wanna put your weapon down, and your feets up and enjoy it . It can be sad, it can be surprising, it can Piss you off, it can make you laugh…but when its done well, even if it wasn’t your cup of tea? You can respect that the journey was still good even if the ending was shitty .

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Well, as far as I know the peak of reward given by our brains is not at the end or the culmination of a desire/task, but just the moment after, so according to that it would be better for something not to end but to give some kind of indication that it is not finished yet or something like a ending but with a clear indication that it’ll continue, that’s what make us keep moving forward, that’s the motivation, maybe that’s why some say that they don’t want it to finish (no matter how good or bad can the ending be subjectively). After the end it may be no more interest, cause we already received the reward, it’s done, there’s no other thing after to keep the motivation, to keep reading.
Obviously this could go the other way also. depending on the impact that the story could have had on the reader, it can further extend the interest on the story, motivate to search for another one similar or even create your own version of it (that’s what fanatics do right?)

Maybe a much broader answer of what the question was…

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Epilogues, as long as they’re not just bullet points… like: “this is where X is” “this is how Z ended up” etc. A good, well fleshed out epilogue can make or break(if it’s not there) a story for me, especially if there’s more than one possible outcome for the ending.

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Tin Star’s ending was probably one of the best endings (regardless of what the Marshal’s ultimate fate was) for me, because of its scope and its completeness. The influence that the Marshal had on so many lives is stunning to see.

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For me, it is to have an ending. To culminate the majority of my experiences in a nice rewarding ball. I know this seems ‘obvious’, but hear me out.

Series tend to suffer from my issue the most, because they just… end. There is no ‘ending’, they just stop. I know this often has to do with wanting to continue story threads, but often the story doesn’t give you any form of reward for finishing it.

I tend to actually like the story to tie itself up, and then for an epilogue to offer teasers for whatever thread the author didn’t want to end for that particular story.

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For me, this is a bit of a sad moment because you have come a long way. You have experienced many emotions. It was both anger and joy. You fell in love with the heroes of your game, you lived one life with them. And then it all ended. All levels are completed, all battles too. It’s a little sad

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I haven’t seen anyone say this outright, but when it comes to a good ending, it needs to be obvious that the story is drawing to a close and that all of the necessary steps to finish the story are being taken. There’s nothing worse than going down a story, (especially cyoa), and knowing that the ending is coming at some point, but without all of the buildup (or tear down?) required to give it a satisfying resolution.

Just to take an example from a book I imagine most everyone here has read, Animal Farm does the exact opposite of this. Despite the fact that you know the story is ending because of the pages on the right getting less thick, the narrative just kind of chugs and chugs along until Orwell finally once again states Stalinism is bad. Sure, there’s the increased brutality of the pigs, but that’s been going on for the past 4/5 of the whole narrative; it getting worse doesn’t add any suspense and doesn’t help the ending because the story has been about that the entire time. It has no buildup to the ending, because the story has progressed by letting the same type of events occur at a linear rate and could theoretically end at any point.

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Personally, a ‘good’ game ending to me consists of several parts:

  1. It wraps up the overall arcing plots and subplots for the game (or series, if appropriate) in a way that reflects my MC’s choices. In other words, don’t give me a red/green/blue ME3 ending with a magical god-child that appears out of nowhere and tell me that’s the ‘end’. Don’t have my combat-oriented, badass, stubborn character make “peace” with the machines a’la The Matrix 3. If it’s not possible to wrap it up in a way that fits MCs that don’t mesh with the author’s preferred build, then don’t wrap it up at all and leave it open so we can come up with our own, more satisfying ending.

  2. Don’t depress me. I say that somewhat jokingly, but the intent is real: do not give me only bad/sad/horrible endings. Real life is filled with enough bullshit that beats us down, so I don’t need it in my entertainment. I want fun, and I want “happy” for the end. And I don’t want any noticeable bitter in my sweet–don’t kill my MC’s LI (or any other companions) and don’t have my MC ‘lose’ because she didn’t stand on her head with her right hand over her eyes while pointing her foot northward and jumping through a flaming hoop. And then, if she blinks at the wrong time, the whole thing goes to hell. Make the objective obtainable while keeping the crew alive (even if it’s following the final mission in ME2 method, because I freaking loved that). Point is, give my MC a viable path to success and a happy ending. No bitter deaths or shit outcomes, if I don’t want them. Just pass me the bowl of sugar and leave me alone.

  3. That said, don’t kill the world. What do I mean by that? Games follow a particular story–save the world, survive being hunted, fall in love with your companions, whatever. That is one story (or, more accurately, a few stories) in what should be an enormous world. Some authors can do the ‘epilogue’ thing pretty well (Harry Potter comes to mind), where you get a glimpse of what happened after the the “final battle” and get to see that people’s lives go on. And more stories are happening. The world didn’t just stop because they won. Not only does it leave things open for a later sequel set in the same world, it gives us fanfic writers something to play with to keep the author’s world alive (something they should want, really).

tl;dr: When I finish a game, I want to be smiling. Or at least smirking. I don’t want to be sad or drained. Seeing a series end is bittersweet in and of itself, so the ending should make up for that with not only some obtainable happiness, but knowledge that the world (and characters) are still chugging along and what they do next is up to our imaginations. And, finally, the end should stay true to the MC’s personality and way of doing things.

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