Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Why I'm removing bad ends

I said I'd make a post about bad ends today, so here goes. If you haven't played Lilith's Throne yet, this post will contain minor spoilers.

At the moment, as I'm sure most of you are aware, there's one bad end in Lilith's Throne. Namely, when you encounter Brax in the Enforcer HQ, if you lose combat against him, that's it. Game over.

I recently saw someone talking about bad ends, and it made me realise that I'd only added a bad end into Lilith's Throne because "it's what other games do". Thinking about bad ends, I realised that they have the potential to be a very frustrating experience for the player, especially when there's little to no warning that they're coming.

The current bad end works as follows: You fight through combat against Brax, lose, read a few screens of what happens next, play through the sex scene that follows, and only then do you find out that the game was effectively over a long time ago. Although some of you may have seen it coming, there's nothing that explicitly states that a bad end is incoming, so it must be pretty annoying to suddenly find out that you have to load a previous save (and what if you overwrote your previous save during the bad end?!).


So, with that as my first point, here are the reasons why I think bad ends are, well, bad:

    1. They are frustrating for the player to encounter without a huge amount of warning text, which isn't always possible to fit into the story.
    2. They revert a sense of progression. For example, maybe some of you liked the idea of carrying on as Brax's slave, but instead, you're just hit with a "Game Over" screen.
    3. They make the story feel more linear. There's no "my character lost that fight a few times, but then eventually got their act together and won". It's just "my character won everything on their first try", which feels a little stale.
    4. They block a lot of cool ideas for content. If I remove Brax's bad end, I can fit in a character progression as a result of losing to Brax (which you'll discover when I re-write it ;D).

And here are the reasons why I think bad ends can be good:

    1. They provide a serious, easily understandable consequence to failing an objective, which makes that objective feel more satisfying to accomplish.
    2. The idea of a bad end can be a big turn on. Seeing your character being made into a slave, and knowing that it's over for them, satisfies some people's fetish.

I think I can counter the first point by saying that I'll introduce serious non-game-ending consequences to failing big objectives, so the sense of accomplishment at avoiding a significant penalty will still be there. As to the second point, I can't really do much about that. There will, inevitably, be a few bad ends towards the very end of the game (losing to the final boss will be one of them), so there will still be content for that specific fetish (although not for some time).

With all that being said, I'm convinced that removing bad ends is a good idea. This might not happen for 0.1.65, but it's coming. To give you an idea of what Brax's bad end might evolve into, I'll be keeping the forced-transformation aspect, but Brax will let you go (with the slave-collar still in place) after he's had his fun...

Just so that's clear, "Brax's bitch" content will remain largely un-changed, but you'll be able to continue playing afterwards!

If you have any thoughts on the topic, or if you'd like to point out something that I've missed, please leave a comment!

12 comments:

  1. Well dunno about anyone else but I always strive for "my character won everything on their first try" in any game I play. It would have been really sad to get the game over but getting to read the scene would be nice. Keep up the good work! Can't wait for next update and char transfer, whenever that happens. Honestly my only gripe with this game. Rest is awesome!

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    1. The character importer will require some changes to the way the player character is handled & saved engine-side, so, even though I'm working on it as a high priority, it realistically won't be in the game until at least version 0.1.67.

      It's probably the most requested feature right now, so I'm working on getting it done as soon as possible!

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  2. I like this change, I was actually hoping that you'd expand that bad end later to allow further playing. I'm not a fan of bad ends, because every hero, or at least every good one, has lost at least one fight in their life. I like having a persistent narrative, so replacing these 'bad ends' with reminders or something meaningful that impacts the play or player

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  3. well we could get the game over but it says to continue and a little text pops up and you push continue again and it will continue the game :D

    there should be a way to see what all the bad ends would say tho so we would know what would have happened

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  4. Well, I can understand the reasoning behind that. Losing or Winning against Brax should unlock scenes accordingly.

    I like the idea behind forced transformations. Hopefully much more of these will be released in the future. :p

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  5. I'm loving that idea, I always get frustrated at getting stopped from playing the game. Now that doesn't mean I dislike Bad Ends but it does get annoying to go through all the things to get back to the boss I lost to on purpose to see the scene. So I'm good with this change. :3

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  6. I think the problem is how would the player go on if s/he is a slave?
    You're the creator, so if you really want you can work a compromise for making sense/working with the story. Of couse, for extreme situations that wouldn't be possible (You got it covered when you said there would be bad ends towards the end of the game).

    Forced transformation + player submission is not my thing so I don't really know what to say about bad ends other than hating them.

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  7. There are lots of transformational games out there that have many bad ends, often as the final result of one of the (many) transformations. In some cases the number of endings is considered a measure of how good the game is and some actually keep a tally of how many ends you've found. However, it's also true that it usually only takes a few turns to reach each end, and this style of game is often evident from the outset.

    Lilith's Throne isn't like that. The player might take many hundreds of turns before they decide they might be able to tackle Brax. The problem is they won't know beforehand if they've done enough. It should be obvious to save before trying, but someone will forget and lose potentially hours of play.

    See the Cruelty Scale - http://www.ifwiki.org/index.php/Cruelty_scale

    The game could auto-save at the point before going in. Or add additional warnings (a sense of unease or dread perhaps), or offer some other mechanism to allow the player to judge their chance of success.

    But, as you say, some may enjoy playing out the "fail" scenario for a while. It could perhaps offer a difficult puzzle to allow the player to regain the upper hand at some point.

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  8. Personally, I agree with your rationale for removing them. I think it in some ways comes off as punitive for enjoyment's sake, saying "this is the maximum level of kinky this story can get.' I've no problem with doing something dumb, being rescued by some NPC and now cursed with some affliction, but the longer that the player stays in the game, the more fun they can have.

    When I played the first version, I thought it was really hot for my Boy character to have lost this fight (that I had honestly not prepared for in the least), and suddenly find myself in this situation where I am a greater-wolf morph being bred like that. I didn't know it was a turn on at all- till it happened. Now I've been just trying to play though the game, saving up wolf whisky and meat and marrow just so I can defeat Brax (though seduction alone mind you) and also be the sexy wolf morph he would of made me. And then if something happens later, I can become something else. Its enjoyable.

    Sides, a scar or even like... a brand or a tattoo that marked you were once Brax's bitch, adds flavor to the story. Nobody has to even comment on it, but when you look at your appearance... there will always be that scar of the time you failed to Brax, wondering if any of the young pups you meet in the future are yours. And that can be it, and it is a poignant, emotional thing.

    If that takes more time, fine so be it, because that's also more time to gameplay- returning to your form or the flavor bits of being a sexy, fertile greater wolfmother.

    The story can have an eventual end, but till we get there, and however many twists and turns we take to get there, it should all funnel you back into the game, regardless of how pristine or scarred your character is.

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  9. Thanks for all of your insightful comments!

    Instead of responding to you all individually (and spamming the comments section), I'm putting this one comment up to let you all know that I've read through each of your thoughts on the matter of bad ends, and am pleased to see that there's a good reaction to removing them from the game. The way that they're going to evolve is very much as 'Unknown' said in their comment, in that each loss that replaces a a bad end will leave a mark on your character (some reversible, some not).

    I also wanted to say, as I mentioned in the original post, that this change won't make it into 0.1.65. It will almost certainly be in the version after that, though.

    Thanks once again for all your comments, I really do take them all on board and think about what each of you have to say!

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  10. YAAAAAS! And I hope more stuff will be like that. I have never understood bad ends. Sure, become Brax's bitch, but that shouldn't mean life stops there and there could be a way to break his hold. I feel like that makes for better RP anyways. Its good to see involuntary transformation not end the game for once. Thats kind of my transformation flavor and its something alot of games won't touch. I look even more forward to the games development now.

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