After venturing deep inside the crystal castle to discuss with the supreme wizard of gameplay design face to face (that’s me looking into a mirror), I’ve come to this conclusion: No.
Let me elaborate. With a visual novel or dating sim, or even life simulation like Spirited Heart, having a gallery of several different endings could make sense. Since it’s part of their gameplay: replaying the game choosing a different path, job, skill etc. But a decent RPG should have hours and hours of fun!
Story-based RPGs like Planet Stronghold can last quite a lot of time: I am now writing the part where you venture into the wastelands, and some battles can even lead to “game over”, but in general if you lose a battle you can retry in most cases. This means that you can spend 15-20 minutes in a battle and lose it, and retry with a different party configuration / approach. Even assuming that you will win all battles at first attempt, right now there are already 30 battles in the game. Multiply 30 battles for 4 minutes each (4 minutes is an insane low amount of time, totally unrealistic!) and that makes already 2h of gameplay just for the first 3 chapters (a really low estimate as I said, since doesn’t include dialogues either). The final game will have 10 chapters.
What does this means? It means that this game once finished can last 20-25 hours or even more, like commercial AAA games. I know that SOME people probably replayed Dragon Age or Mass Effect to see different endings, but how many really? I never did that, because I don’t have the time, but even if I had it, after playing the whole game from beginning, I don’t think I would like to replay it from start.
As indie, making CGs is expensive. The ones of Planet Stronghold will be absolutely beautiful, probably the best one ever seen in one of my games. If each ending corresponds to a single CG (like happens with my other games), most people aren’t going to see them all, and that’s a pity. I feel like wasting my money for content that only a minority will be able to see.
So, I’m thinking what to do. Those CG were intented for the romance endings, so each CG would be Joshua or Lisa with one of those characters (won’t say which ones but you can guess). I thought about two possible solutions:
1) I was thinking instead if to integrate them in the story, like The Witcher did (a CG in certain specific point of the plot, with voiceovers, I think that worked really well) or 2) at least make it possible to see them allfrom a certain point of the game.
For example, while each character relationship will influence how well he/she fights into the battle, at a certain point of the plot you will be able to save and from that point you can reach any possible romance ending, no matter what you’ve done before. That way at least player could have only to replay something like the last 2 chapters or so.
I think this solution might work well and that’s the one I’m probably going to adopt, since I want everyone to be able to see all the various endings without having to replay from start.
Obviously, since you pick the gender at beginning of game, if you want to see the ending of the opposite gender you WILL have to restart from scratch with that one 🙂