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Started by droqen, June 20, 2024, 12:34:18 PM

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[ A. Games may end. What do i want an ending to accomplish?
  B. An ending closes the loop and sets you free. It satisfies an entire domain of mastery. The player displays complete understanding. The game acknowledges. ]


[ A. What relationship do endings have to one another? Why have multiple endings? Does one ending need to be 'better' than another?
  B. People develop and become more complex, eventually containing multiple related masteries. One ending may satisfy a player who has mastered every domain; another may satisfy a player who has only mastered one or two. Each ending is a plateau on a developmental path of understanding. ]

Note neither of these speaks to narrative endings, this is about games and gameplay feelings. Narrative is woven in with these, but I have not thought very deeply about how. It is a problem for another droqen, perhaps.

Note on [ A. B. ] structure; the intention of this first post is to summarize the beginning and end of my understanding of the topic. All below posts represent my more complete thought structure. The way that this was written was I created a first post that simply contained "[AB]", I wrote all the below posts, then I came back to edit this first post. It is my hope that this makes for more readable threads.


Following a conversation with Xalavier Nelson Jr. about my process and about how my process produces games that are missing a 'resolution' or satisfying end to dialogue with the player, I reflected upon the design of Big A little a; here are my observations.


Big A little a has a discrete collection of player powers: "ji", "A", "a", "|<".

Big A little a has two endings.

You can (easily) reach the right-side ending without using a or ji, which lead Daniel Linssen to comment that he thought he did something wrong --- belying, I think, an incomplete satisfaction with the game mechanics. He also said it depends on if he got "the best ending" or not.

There is no best or better ending; the left-side ending requires the usage of a and ji, but can be completed without the others. It is not "better" though.

The two endings together activate the full set of powers but there is no one whole satisfying experience.


OK, I think that's everything.


Now, I've thought about this some, and I think I understand a larger pattern which surrounds the "ENDING AS RESOLUTION" pattern. Sometimes it is nice to have multiple endings for different types of players. In particular, however, each ending exists on a hierarchy... In the case of BA-la, the lower tier of the hierarchy does not exist... There is no player who understands only ji and a for instance, for whom the ji-a ending would provide a complete resolution.

However, suppose that there is a secret fifth ability, ghain, which is easily missed or regarded as useless, accessible only to a player who has gone beyond mastery of the ji-A-a-|< system. In this case, understanding that there are two discrete player mastery profiles to satisfy (ji-A-a-|< vs ji-A-a-|<-ghain), it makes sense to create two separate endings, for satisfying two separate experiences.

(find link to article about playing patchwork game with children)


(find link to article about playing patchwork game with children)

I can't! Oh well. There was an article written years ago, in which a person discussed playing Patchwork with a child by limiting their 'strategic horizon' or some such phrase: essentially, making the best choice available to you without considering a certain strategic aspect of the game. Say you want to play Chess against a kid without letting them win, but want to present a realistic challenge which they can actually reason against and overcome. What you could do is develop a sort of constrained worldview; play Chess as well as possible without thinking about what squares pieces threaten, for instance. I forget what their limited strategic horizon was with Patchwork, maybe it was always choosing the best piece available for the immediate turn and not planning ahead at all?

Please contact me if you find it!

Anyway, the way this relates to HIERARCHY OF ENDINGS is that each tier of the hierarchy is for a player a step up the skill tree. They are developing their understanding of the game's systems, expanding their strategic horizon (which may be a term I made up and not be from that Patchwork article at all, idk), and therefore looking for different sorts of acknowledgement. You can't give a player satisfying resolution on something that is not yet within their strategic horizon. If you give then a test, and as a result of that test they happen to master the skill (i.e. newly encompassing something within the horizon), it may not provide as much satisfaction as administering a second test now that they think they fully understand. Nevermind, I don't believe that. Or in any case that's not what this is about.

Anyway #2, the endings in BA-la are neither one very satisfying because neither of them encompasses an entire domain and so does not satisfy any sort of mindset, worldview, player-perspective. Even if a player were aware of ghain, I suppose that a merely ji-A-a-|< ending would be very satisfying because as people we are capable of empathy -- with peers, with children, with past versions of ourselves -- but the ji-a ending does not represent satisfaction for any actual person; these systems are all part of the same unit of knowledge, they exist on the same plane.

Neither ending is for anyone.

Every ending should be for someone.