First Person: Saying Goodbye to Vault Girl

Dennis Scimeca

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Saying Goodbye to Vault Girl

Loving a character so much, you can't bear to finish their game.

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Ralen-Sharr

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sounds like Vault Girl needed some of Skyrim's content generation

It's awesome that you ended up with a character so well fleshed out. To me it's always better if you can try to see things from the character's perspective and let them act as they should, even if it's not the best way.

Also, I have to say that while other game makers are good, it's Bethesda that gives you a WORLD to build your own adventure, and tell your own story, so you can see your own character.
 

JesterRaiin

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Dennis Scimeca said:
One of the basic rules of fiction is that stories need endings.
Never heard it before. Plenty of best works of fiction end with cliffhangers.
Also, i don't get it : is F3 first sandbox, play-after-main storyline game you you played or what ???
 

getofish

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my guy had a different type of ending. i made an evil person.had some one else sacrificed to die at the end instead of me. went on to do all the dlc and played a lot and ruined the wasteland for any one. in my head he dropped like this. the final remnanets of the wastes that i hadnt killed yet finally ganged up on him and killed him but his legacy lives on in every person that wants to do what they want and control the world.
 

Dennis Scimeca

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I couldn't believe the game would really kill Vault Girl and end with all that content left over, so when the game cut to the closing credits I was incensed. So were a lot of other Fallout 3 players who felt robbed of all that content they hadn't finished. Imagine how angry a player who hadn't chosen to sacrifice their character would have been when the game ended anyway?
Those players (And the ones that bitched about a definitive ending to New Vegas) really should've just gotten over it, because all Broken Steel did was make that finale feel shallow and pointless.

At least when my Lone Wanderer died I could speculate on how the wasteland would change based on my actions in the Story. Without that ending all we got was "And then the Lone Wanderer killed a few more Enclave grunts and then spent the rest of his/her days fighting albino rad-scorpions and raiders-who-never-actually-raid-anything-but-it's-whatever." Now the BoS have water caravans and everything else is completely the same. Go team.

I'm not going to say the ending was perfect, it really should've done something with your companions other than "You must do this yourself", maybe have a scripted death scene for them, or maybe like "I'll hold here, you go on ahead!", but it was still important to make everything else you did have weight.

That was my biggest issue with Skyrim, besides crippling bugs. Finally finishing the main quest felt no more significant to me than completing the Companions Guild and less significant than the Mages Guild. It was just one more thing to tick off my quest list. Killing Alduin and saving the world meant jack shit. No one noticed, and nothing happened because of it. Give me an ending that at least acknowledges my victory over that any day.

Glad to see Obsidian didn't cave to people too oblivious to save before an obvious final battle like Bethesda did.

Other than that I really liked this article, and completely understand what your talking about, having been there myself in Fallout(and other games) plenty of times.
 

Seventh Actuality

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This is why when I get attached to an RPG character, I just remake them in a different RPG and pretend they're like the Eternal Champion or some shit.
 

wintercoat

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Pity Vault Girl is on your Xbox. If she was on the PC, you could just grab a ton of mod quests and continue her story. Sure, most of them are crap, but a few are really worth the download.
 

jedizero

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Honestly, the only thing I hated about the ending, was the ending itself. I am perfectly fine with the game having a definitive end, it was the story of said ending that was, to be quite honest, BULLSHIT.

Hey! Gotten the contract for Charon? congrats! He won't go into the radioactive area to push the button....the ghoul, who is healed by radiation. Won't go into the radioactive area.

Oh hey! Fawkes! the Lawful Good super mutant! You're awesome, you'll help us out, right? After all, you've braved heavy radiation before!

...What? You won't deny me my 'destiny'? Seriously? I SAVED YOUR ASS. I GOT YOU FREE. And you're here saying 'No, I won't save your life in return because I don't want to deny your destiny of DYING HORRIBLY when there is an alternative option?' You....you asshole.

Well, thank goodness I have a robot! Programmed to do whatever I need, and of course, he's made of metal, and lead! He won't be hurt by the radiation....and even then, its just a robot. I can rebuild hi- You won't go in either. Why. Not? .....motherfu- *BOOM*

It doesn't help that the ending is pretty much 2 yes/no questions. Meaning a grand total of four combinations! Wow! Four whole choices!
 

JesterRaiin

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Seventh Actuality said:
This is why when I get attached to an RPG character, I just remake them in a different RPG and pretend they're like the Eternal Champion or some shit.
o_O
Been a while since somebody evoked concept of Moorcock's Champion. Thanks for reminding ! :)
 

Ravnican

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See this is exactly what I felt when I finished
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
There is no ending, you just go on doing whatever you have left to do until you get bored and start over.
 

Sabrestar

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Good characters really do come to life. It's happened to me and my characters in fiction, in roleplaying, and in videogames. They will tell their own stories.

There's an old MST3K episode, The Girl in Lovers' Lane. Without spoiling anything, the movie ends in a way that the MST writers acknowledged was horribly unsatisfying, and they wrote that anger into Joel and the 'Bots, and had them write a new ending to the movie. There's even a part where Joel defends it saying they don't need to accept the filmmakers' ending. In the companion book to the series, the MST writers said that yes, they had to do that, to erase the bad memories the movie left (and to make those guys hate a movie, it had to be truly terrible), and that they felt liberated by their new-ending skit. Sometimes lessons can be learned in the oddest places.

Maybe it's time to choose your own ending for Aeryn Vault-Girl. Take up the pen (or keyboard) and end her story. Call it fanfiction or not, or don't call it anything. No one ever even has to read it but you. But you'll give her closure, and you'll give it to yourself too. She'll thank you, and you'll be happy.

Never mind if it's silly or you think people will criticise you for writing bad fanfiction. It's for yourself. I had to do this once myself, for a long-running roleplay character whose story ended in a bad situation due to RL issues. No one has ever read her final chapter, and no one but myself ever will. But it felt right.

HP Lovecraft said "I would write even if I were the only patient reader, for my aim is merely self-expression." If Vault Girl left that much of an impression with you, then give her a chance to finish her story outside the bounds of the game.
 

Right Hook

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Really great article, I love the dedication you put into your character, thank you for sharing your story.
 

BehattedWanderer

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Jun 24, 2009
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Ah. I always have this problem, as I get really attached to my characters. RPG characters tend to get it the worst, since they're usually up against some insurmountable odds, and when they win, it's spectacular. The Warden in Dragon Age damn near single handedly beats a blight, and then--what? They sit down for a year, content to be the manager in an office, occasionally putting down some peasant revolts, the occasional darkspawn? Hardly. You know they'd get bored out of their skull.

Same thing happens with Vault Girl. Exiled from her former friends and family, and saviour of the wastes, but then...contentment? No. They'd go wandering elsewhere, to the far corners of the world, maybe with a friend, maybe not, but at least with Dogmeat, loyal friend of friends, and a great companion. Maybe she'd never tell who she was, maybe she'd just mentioned it in bars for the occasional drink, but she'd keep going. Driven to isolation by the sheer weight of what she did on her shoulders, her skills, talents, and intelligence setting her well above most everyone else. So she'd keep moving. Maybe she'd find love, and be happy somewhere. Maybe not, and just put up a nice shack somewhere where she can snipe radscorpions and Mirelurks right in their faces for fun and meat.

Maybe, in a fit of depression, she'd just walk on over to Vault 87's door, and just keep walking in, until she never needed to walk again, choosing to end it her own way, rather than wait to trip on a rock while fighting a deathclaw.

But I like to think she's happy, wherever she went.
 

Gaboris

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I joined the site cuz of this so be proud of yourself. ;)

If I may say so I feel your pain my friend. I was in the same situation in F3 and even back in F2 with the free roam ending. This style of "ending the story" feels shallow and leaves players empty if they can't cope with it like as Sabrestar told of her/his own way, but the original "this is it and there's no turning back" way of ending just doesn't fit an open world game in my opinion.

How I got over this? Well the original "everything is over" ending was simple, I just visited and finished every single location and quest I could and only then went on with the main story. (Though that's because I already knew it was a final end cuz I only got it when the GOTY version came out.)

When Broken steel started I was interested in finding new things to do(although there were few) and when I ran out of everything I was lost since I left nothing for after the story... I kept the game locked for a few weeks when I got a burst of nostalgia and started it up again and started to "say goodbye" to the people I met. So I visited every important place I saved, created or helped through the main and the DLC world and then I took my dear Dogmeat(the original cuz he was my pup and I never let him die, I didn' even LOOK at that puppy perk), got my base equipment on and went to the cliff at Vault101 where I "sat" down and waited for about 5-15 minutes as the screen kept rotating around my character Gaboris(I'm attached to this name sooo...) and when I remembered all the things we were through I saved, quit and uninstalled the game and all the saves.
Did it still hurt? Sure, but it was better then ending in the middle of a road when I was meant to do something.

Now in Skyrim I barely looked at the main story even if it's not a final ending and I already visited about 50-60% of the map in my 100 hours of gameplay so far, but didn' do much in quests so I won't loose much time after I start the story and when it's over it'll be over.

Sorry my comment is getting almost as long as an actual post, but SOMETIMES I get carried away, just let me finish this one last thing.
In my opinion the right way for such games is the "continue after the ending" way, BUT I had an idea of a good extra it could use namely a choice of "final quest" that the player can do after the story is over and he feels like it's time to let his hero rest. This could be a simple thing like "Get a home and a family together and say that you're happy now." or "Go to the border gates and leave for an adventure." and then the correct ending could roll.
So far I haven't seen such a option in any of the games I played so if the big dogs fail to come up with it I swear I'll try to make my own game and give them a nice "101 on respecting your players". I know this sounded a bit dumb, but when I dive into a subject I tend to overreact.

Anyways sorry once again for making such a huge spam and keep up the great work. :)
 

Dastardly

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Apr 19, 2010
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Dennis Scimeca said:
Saying Goodbye to Vault Girl

Loving a character so much, you can't bear to finish their game.

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The most powerful resource we have for maintaining interest in a story or character is the Unanswered Question. It creates tension, which creates a need for motion. It is the fuel for the journey.

As we move through the character's story, we answer parts of that question. We add those answers to our understanding of the character and love or hate that character even more. We use up the fuel as we go.

And for a time, we're in that wonderful in-between -- there's always another hill in the distance, and always juuuust enough fuel to get us over it. And that's when the best writers will do the cruelest and most merciful thing they can do. They stop.

Because something terrible happens when all the hills are climbed, all the questions answered, and all the loose ends tied up. There is nothing left to wonder. The character stops living and becomes simply a book whose last page was just turned. The end.

A goldfish feels at home in its bowl because the bowl is clear. The fish can be fooled into believing the world extends into the "possible," beyond the edge of the bowl, even if he can never go there. It's enough to believe it's out there. We're no different. And when the story ends, all neat and tidy, we can't see out into the "possible" anymore.

Eh, pick your metaphor.

(For me, it was Firefly that did this. I'm glad it ended when it did, leaving so much unanswered. That world is still alive with possibility, in that "I wonder what they'd be doing right now" kind of way...)
 

Dennis Scimeca

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I am sure you have examples, but I personally cannot think of a story ending with a cliffhanger unless it was a television show that was cancelled before the cliffhanger could be resolved. I've read plenty of open endings, but they are still endings, i.e. there are no more pages to turn or minutes to watch. They still end.

Fallout 3, on the other hand, never, ever ends.
 

Dennis Scimeca

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I'm confused that a game as poorly written as Fallout 3 could garner thinking as well written as this.

Then again, imagination always is one of the greatest tools a person can utilize for themselves, so I applaud you for bringing that turgid, dull game to life in the way you did. I feel for you, as I've felt the same way with other characters in different games, even ones that haven't been sandbox, but linear, mainly thanks to superb writing. Often thinking, I wonder what would have happened after the events we just saw?

Same with film. And now with Skyrim, to a degree. If I only had stayed away from that awful main plot.
 

Muspelheim

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I understand perfectly what you mean, I am/was more or less in the same dilemma. My own character (Nestor the well-meaning vault chaplain turned wasteland hero) was a notorious do-gooder, and would really have benefitted more from an absolute ending, martyrdom in that radiation maelstrom would probably be the way he'd want to go. I suppose writing together a satisfying, finitive ending myself would be the second best.

That's a mercy kill I should extend to my World of Warcraft-character as well, come to think of it...

Honestly, if given the option again, I would much rather prefer a defintive ending to a game of this free-roaming type. The Broken Steel-thing just managed to suck every sense of meaning out of the ending, it felt like it was mostly tacked on so that I could play around in the wasteland more freely with all my chores done. However, they should telegraph that fact in advance, that there will be a finitive ending at a moment where you can reasonably put the ending on hold and settle all the business you'd like first.