There is something to be taken away and used from just about any form of artistic entertainment when you are a writer. That of course is because just about every one of those forms of entertainment requires writing. Though they don't use words even sculptors and painters are telling some kind of story. It should come as no surprise then when a video game prompts a writing idea. I have been reading articles about the game Mass Effect 3. One particular article caught my attention more than the others. This one mentions decisions from all 3 games impacting the finale of the final game in the trilogy. Taking this article at its word or extending the metaphor so that it would be true then the first game would result in 3 different endings. The second game holding with 3 variables too would result in 9 endings. Keeping with this, by the end of the third game you would have 27 possible endings. That would be a lot of endings. The variation between them at the individual level could be very subtle. They could be broken into larger groupings where there is a larger difference between each group.
What causes these changes--or would in other multi-end narratives? One factor is the death of characters. Those deaths cause ripples of influence as well as more concretely may leave some events with entirely different results. Many are the stories of a character in the right place at the right time with the right skill to pull victory from the jaw of defeat. What if such a person dies? As much as games, and often narratives in general, rely on these people living and being the focus. There are some situations that a secondary character pulls the hero's fat from the fire directly or indirectly. These other goals, that now break rather than build the situations leading to the protagonist's success, only add tension if used correctly. There is also the added drama of dealing with the death of a close and important ally.
Come back next week for where I'm going with this.
Music: Back to Madness by Stratovarius and Helter Skelter by Motley Crue.