Game Flow, or: Why Putting Fetish Scenes in Failure States is a Bad Idea

We’ve all seen it before. You play a fetish-based RPG Maker game, and there is a submit item or skill on the list. You then proceed to use the item on every unique encounter from now on, hoping that it would lead to a fetish scene.

It’s a trope that’s been done to death, and one that goes against every fiber of a player’s instincts. Fetish scenes in failure states reward the player for losing. Adding bad ends like this throws off the game flow massively.

However, I definitely understand why developers add fetish bad ends. Losing to something and then getting fattened/inflated/tied up/fucked by it is an extremely popular fetish. It’s why I can’t just say to “not have them in a game.”

This creates a problem. How do you implement fetishy bad ends to a game without it affecting the game flow? I would probably make it so the bad ends are only unlocked after beating the encounter. There would be some kind of location to refight the enemy or view the bad end directly (which in a fetish game should be there in the first place).

I’ve been pondering this question along with many other fetish game -related design decisions. As it turns out, it is really difficult to design a game where you want to see your character get lewded as well as making the game enjoyable and make it flow smoothly. It is definitely something every aspiring fetish game dev should think about before starting IMO.

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A better approach than throwing the fight might be something like what Undertale did, where each encounter is a little bit of a puzzle that needs to be solved while defending in order to unlock the non-lethal resolution to the fight.

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One possible solution is to simply have the characters you defeat suffer the “bad-ends”, with your character being the one that does it.

In regards to unlocking it after winning, I think even this is bad. The flow will still be broken by having you enter a menu, as well as you effectively watching an alternate-universe version of events.

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I wouldn’t put it in a menu. One idea I had was that it would be a shop of some sorts that would let you view “alternate versions” of events that have transpired. For example, a strange hookah parlor -type place where a strange drug would cause you to hallucinate these bad ends that never happened in reality. It would tie it to the world itself, and it could act as a reward of sorts because you specifically earned the right to view it, both by beating the encounter and potentially paying to view it. Further incentive would be for those hallucinations to give you small but permanent buffs.

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Oh, like an in-game reward for unlocking scenes? That’d be kinda neat.

And it doesn’t have to be a hookah parlor. It could be something like visiting a fortune teller and looking at the crystal ball, or maybe a wishing well that can show you the alternate events.

There’s a few solutions to this as befitting the game.

  • Have it be New Game+ content where it’s made explicitly clear to players that new combat outcomes can occur.

  • A Gallery or Bestiary where players can track unlockable scenes and/or replay encounters to experiment with combat.

  • Save special outcomes only for special encounters such as bosses or for unique creatures (perhaps an item or interface feature can light up to highlight where special options are available?)

These and all of the previously mentioned ideas can be made viable by a developer astute enough to recognise the issue through playtesting - will the players’ be hampering their own experience through needless checking of options in the search for content?

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An alternative solution to bad ends interrupting game flow is to allow the game to continue after the “bad end” instead of going to a game over or a returning to a checkpoint.

Have the character suffer the bad end, then continue the game from that point.

The advantage here is there a bad end can be included as part of the story. It also allows the players to experience the bad end without interrupting the game with a branching story into and alternative timeline. The game simply follows from the bad end and incorporates it into the history of the character.

The disadvantage is justifying continuing the game and story after the “bad end”. Some bad ends can be very permanent and recovering from one might not always make sense.

But if the game manages to manages to justify continuing after a bad end in a satisfying way then we can have our fetish cake and eat it too.

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Building off what @FA_Gamer said…

It occurs to me that one option would be to give the player character some unique ability that prevents them from totally and irrevocably failing (it resets them out of a fail state to “respawn” in some safe location). The bad end still happened, and characters even still acknowledge it as having happened, and the story gets to continue.

I just had Planescape on the brain, in terms of this design choice. That game features an immortal protagonist where them being mysteriously revived in a sanctuary location is incorporated into the story and even the mechanics of progression. Those deaths you suffer happened, to the point where failing is both inevitable and sometimes necessary to progress. Solving some traps and quests in Planescape requires dying, sometimes painfully.

While we probably aren’t talking about a character literally dying (just a fetishy “bad end”), I don’t see why the same game design choice of reversible but acknowledged failure states couldn’t be attempted in this situation. It might actually allow for some unusual story and quest design choices. If the effects of your bad ends linger on in some way, and other characters remember them as having happened, it makes it feel like less of a cheap undo button, too.

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I just really like bad ends, thats why I have so many in my game. But for that reason I also made one of those “bad end viewers” which unlock the bosses bad end scene to be viewed in a sort of big hub area after you defeat them.

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Ah this topic. The eternal debate with these sorts of things. Figured I might as well throw my hat into the ring on this because I’m a strong advocate for not having fetish-based failure states.

So, the problem I see with this whole thing actually has 0% to do with “flow,” I think terms like that tend to be buzz words that are rarely useful unless given a full explanation. My problem with fetish-based fail states is with the fact that these sorts of fail states are a fundamental mismatch of what the player wants, and what the game is. I hate to bash on Grimm here, because I really respect what he’s done for the community, but let’s use his game GUT as an example.

In that game, like most fetish games, it’s safe to say that the player wants to experience as much of the fetish content as possible. Any opportunity to see fats that the player is aware of will most likely be taken, since that’s what the player is there for, at least initially. Most of the game is fairly decent at this. Progress is rewarded with the side characters in the world becoming fatter overall, encouraging exploration and further progression. It’s simple and could be done better, but this is what you want generally.

However, with boss fights, it’s more often than not the exact opposite. A player is rewarded for not engaging with the combat mechanics and losing the battle. This is a strange mismatch of priorities, since the game mechanics act against this, but the player wants what’s behind that game over. As a result, in these situations, the player isn’t really playing your game anymore, and it calls into question why the bossfight is even there, since doing the “correct thing” according to the mechanics is counter to what the player wants.

Now, that said, there is a bad-end view room in the game you can go to see the bad ends for the previous encounters, which at least somewhat supports the idea that progress = more fetish material, since you can go there after you’ve beaten a boss to see the alt-scenario, but this is more of a band-aid than anything for people who don’t know that losing gives you more fetish scenes. It doesn’t add anything to the gameplay, and more often than not, a player will probably want to lose anyway even if they know about both because of the added context of the scene, faster feedback, ect.

Also, it’s worth noting that all this applies even if the scenario isn’t a “game over.” Weight gain traps and other things that go against the game’s core mechanics are basically the same thing to a lesser extent, and often cause ludonarritive dissonance.

So, that’s why these things aren’t good game design. Now, to be clear, that doesn’t mean people shouldn’t like these things. I like GUT, and I like the bad ends, I play it all over again whenever there’s a new update, but I’d also like these games to be better and want to have to play the game when I do these things. When I’m getting these bad ends, I don’t feel like I’m playing the game anymore, I’m just menuing through stuff to see the fun scenes, even though the game’s supposed to be an RPG with exploration and combat.

And to put my money where my mouth is, I want to give some ideas for how to fix this sort of thing. This is a unique problem in a lot of fetish content, and I think it’s worth talking about solutions to the problem so that we can have better games on the site in the future.

All of these solutions assume 2 things:

  1. the character(s) getting fat are unwilling, since this is usually what makes the scenario a “bad end” or detriment to the character anyway.
  2. The game is fundamentally built around fetish content. Some games just put fetish stuff on the side, and that’s a whole different can of worms. Though, this is a fine assumption to make about pretty much all the games on this site.

Anyway, on to the solutions.

  1. Make the game about exploring multiple endings. Many games have “bad ends,” but a lot of those games want you to experience those bad ends, because the game’s more about exploring the possibilities in the story rather than just getting the good ending. Visual novels do this a lot, and often lock the “good ending” content behind the “bad ends.” This makes the game more replayable (at least until you get all the endings) and adds variety. I’d recommend making the “good ends” have more fetish content than the “bad ends” just so that the player is rewarded for them more, but there’s a lot of wiggle room here.

  2. Make the game from the enemy/feeder’s perspective. I’ve realized when coming up ideas for games that you can do a lot with playing as a villain with this fetish. Since most people generally don’t want to be big piles of fat, playing as the villain trying to impede a character’s progress is a great way to create unwilling WG scenarios and make the fetish more in the player’s control, since fattening the character is the player’s main objective in this case. It doesn’t even have to be a “villain.” Could be a hero trying to stop a villain by making them fatter. As long as there’s a conflict where one side wants the other fatter, you can make that work. Doesn’t even have to be the whole game, you can use this for a quest or something.

  3. Make the player omniscient/detached. If the player is completely detached from the character being fattened, there’s a lot more room for creating gameplay that is bad for a character, but good for the player. Could be anything from playing as a computer system that’s fattening people, to just being a general sense of “fate.”

  4. Make players have to work for “bad ends.” For those that want to be playing as the characters that get fatter, the simplest thing to do in these situations is to create “secret endings” rather than “bad endings.” GUT actually has something very close to this in the Candy Factory bad end where Lotta eats too many enemies, but it’s way too simple and easy for it to quite apply. Basically, you want to create a scenario where the player has to interact with the game mechanics to achieve a goal that gives them a “bad end” scenario as a reward. For example, you could change that GUT bad end so that you have to find a few special mini bosses that are only beaten through using the eating mechanics in interesting ways. Once you’ve gotten all of them, bam, secret ending. Of course, you still want to make it so that a player doesn’t get screwed over and lose progress, but that’s another conversation.

  5. Unavoidable WG. If you want the player to gain weight through mechanics and not through optional content. Scenarios that force WG onto the player to progress are a great way to strong-arm this issue. Rather than making the choice about gaining weight or not gaining weight (because almost all players here will choose to gain weight), the choices could come as a result of what that weight does. For example, you could create a game where the farther the player gets, the more weight they gain, and the harder the game is until they reach the end and get a big payoff. Or choosing how the player gains weight could have different effects.

Anyway, Sorry for the massive essay on the subject. The point is, I think it’s worth thinking about these sorts of things to try and make the game’s around here better overall. I’m sure there are way more solutions to this problem than what I wrote down. This is just what I’ve happened to come up with over the last year or so.

Hope this helps / inspires someone.

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The hookah parlor was just one example. It didn’t have to be that specifically. It just depends on what kind of setting and mood your game has.

Hit the nail on the head at every turn! This is exactly the kind of discussion I was hoping when making this thread.

I suppose I should have explained more what I meant by game flow. I suppose “pacing” would’ve been a more appropriate term. When your game screeches to a halt and recommends the player to fail at the next challenge, the pacing is going to be constant awkward stop-and-go.

GUT is pretty much the textbook example for this issue, I have to agree. At least with the knowledge of there being a bad end viewer in the game, I could focus more on actually winning. Still, the fact that I can still get fetishy bad ends even if I’m trying to avoid them is going to keep nagging away at the back of my head.

I really like your examples for avoiding this issue. Another one I could add to it, though: don’t have bad ends with fetish scenes to begin with. Instead, reward the player for exploring and completing quests with fetish scenes. To be fair, this sort of ties into your other examples, but I feel it was still different enough to list.

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The best way I’ve seen this solved was the Super Fatty RPG. Every time you’d die or get eaten by something, you re-appear back in the elevator where you start with very little progress lost so you don’t have to load a previous save.

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Something something ludonarrative dissonance…
In all seriousness though, there’s a lot of great points being made, and I think a lot of the issues with bad ends has to do with testing the players patience. I think the big fat vote rpg does a great job at good bad ends, they’re clearly signposted, let you save before them, and most importantly don’t make you go through combat menus (even with a submit option makes you do this, but a lot of games I’ve seen just have you press wait over and over until you die) or go through too much repeated dialogue.
To be honest I think a good chunk of it has to do with boring generic rpgmaker combat. I don’t think I’ve seen people complaining much about bad ends in stuff like CYOAs and VNs, although to be fair getting bad endings is kinda built into that format. The bad ends there are a reward for exploring the different options and paths, which is the main mechanic, as opposed to losing a fight, which is the opposite of what the player is intended to do in most games. (unless you get clever and make losing the point of the game and also hard to do, that might be an interesting concept)
Cutscene viewers at the end, though appreciated, are definitely a bandaid. It’s never going to be as satisfying watching 7 out of context cutscenes in a row than having it be a part of the game.
This probably won’t fly with the “no difficulty when I’m horny” crew, but having bad ends being locked behind small challenges or weird alternate ways of playing might be good, that way they can be more of a reward than a slog of checking through every boss/enemy to see if you lose or going down a cutscene checklist.

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honestly i was typing something longer out, but it really just boils down to game design.
bad ends at there core are negative feedback, yet fetish bad ends have the goal of the game tied to them.
this creates a situation where the player is encouraged to ignore game systems.
this is just bad game design.

so in my opinion, the best solution is to instead make getting those bad ends the positive outcome of the fight, or requires participating with the game systems to get the boss to a state where it can give you the fetish content.

lets take the average slime boss for example.
you win against it, you come out the same size you were before.
you lose to it, the character gains tremendous weight or becomes inflated with slime before you get booted back to the title screen or checkpoint.
a solution to this: freeze the slime.
you now have to use fire damage to melt the slime cube into a regular slime so that when you lose to it it can stuff/inflate you.
this requires you to participate with game systems before submitting to the boss, and is a bit harder to boot as you need to get it to the fetish state before killing it.
another solution: opt in bad end for winning the fight.
for example the slime could leave a puddle behind, consuming the puddle will result in the bad end where the character is stuffed/immobile.

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Kind of hard to say whether it is a bad idea to have bad endings surrounding weight gain, in a way it almost marks the end of sorts depending on the size you want.

For me having weight gain-related bad ends aren’t bad depending on how long the game itself is, take for instance Pkinad’s Prison where you have multiple endings depending on what happens to you yet it doesn’t feel harsh since the game itself is short. While having only one ending may work, part of the fun is to explore and find out what other potential tricks were added into a game to have different results. Can you imagine Gaining Perspective having multiple unique endings numbering more than five, with each having criteria and paths that must be followed? (Although technically there are three main endings, with some possible endings depending on your weight, but it is very difficult to get them).

There is also the fact some people that like to enjoy every aspect of the game as much as possible, so having different paths to switch up how you experience the game is part of the charm. Then there is changing a game to fit certain rules you make up, like doing a nuzlocke in Pokemon or trying to go studless in Lego games.

However there is a way to make this awful, to lose the fun in finding them and making it a chore or annoyance. This mainly depends if the game sends you back or if trying to reach a particular ending but having a chance it won’t go your way. Panic Diet comes to mind (even if it is for weight loss mainly) where if you’re trying to find every ending card becomes difficult as the game is random, one wrong move and you’ll either blow past it or be sent back a stage. What should take minutes turns into hours, even if you feel great after finally getting it you spent significant time trying for it.

In a sense action games are stuck with this issue, but if other games make the process of trying to earn an ending difficult (as well if it hard resets you back to start if you spent hours on it) or if trying for the other endings is just going through the same game again but this time you have item B instead of A and clearing the data (or make the other option unavailable).

I think a good game that plays for the fetish without breaking the story or stating it’s a bad ending has to be Some Bullshit, a game with stuffing scenes that feel a part of the story and not some tacked on extra. With great writing and unique scenarios the characters could deal with if they chose means the game can be played at a modest pace of your choosing. I could be wrong, I’ve used immobility bad endings in my text adventures but since there is a save feature it’s not too damaging to return to the game. This has however made me think about the purpose of bad endings related with weight gain, Definetely need to keep an eye on myself with that.

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As another counterpoint, assuming a game has a robust saving / information system that telegraphs potential bad ends and offers an easy opportunity to save: fetishistic bad ends can be a good place for players to end a run on a long-form RPG. If spaced correctly by the author, it could be a rewarding place to stop and recontinue the game later. In my opinion, the “menagerie of bad ends” style used to circumvent the way it chops up play is a welcome addition, too, for this style of bad end.

Also, in my opinion, some games’ thematic elements would suffer without bad ends. If you play a reluctant gainer in a world of fattening enemies, it would be a lot harder and sometimes impossible for an author to achieve their vision without bad ends. Like some others have mentioned, the threat of permanent change could be a part of the fetish, but be exponentially harder to create art for / program if reaching a bad end always opened a branching path in the story.

I echo the sentiment that bad ends, as they have been implemented in past titles, can and should be improved (although I would like them to stick around). I love the ideas proposed in this thread for technical improvements to the bad end style, like not instantly being dumped onto the title screen post-bad end or taking notes from Undertale’s approach to combat.

I like the fresh conversation on the topic; I think it comes from a place of admiration for our authors and not abject judgment.

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The thing is, I don’t think having to reload a save has ever been the problem with bad ends. Some people act like immediately loading a checkpoint or good warnings resolves the issue, but the point of them being bad has nothing to do with any of that. It has to do with the bad end being counterproductive to the game element of the game.

If we have, say a simple slime boss where winning continues the game and losing ends in an immobility bad end, let’s consider what the player does to achieve those two things.

In the win scenario, the player has to understand the game’s mechanics and use those mechanics to beat the boss, as well as having to deal with the choices they made previously, if applicable. It’s a challenge, and overcoming that challenge is an accomplishment. And yet by winning, the player gets no immediate fetish reward. They just get to continue playing, hoping that something else gives them what they want.

In the lose scenario. The player just waits until the slime kills them. No challenge has been overcome, and the player doesn’t interact with the game system beyond picking some menu options. However, the player is rewarded immediately with a fetish scene that gives the player exactly what they were looking for. It calls into question why the game even bothers to be a game at all. The gameplay should not be the filler between the content you want to see. It should be the mechanics that drive the experience. Bad end viewers, quick loads, ect. aren’t solutions. They’re band aid things that don’t fix the core problem.

I think anything that doesn’t address this core problem is simply an excuse. I think boss fights are a naturally good place to end a session of gameplay on, regardless of if you have to purposefully lose to get your reward or not. I think it would be much better if the reward was put on the win condition, since the player actually achieved something.

Also, in my opinion, some games’ thematic elements would suffer without bad ends. If you play a reluctant gainer in a world of fattening enemies, it would be a lot harder and sometimes impossible for an author to achieve their vision without bad ends.

2 things with this.

  1. If an idea causes a problem with the game, that doesn’t mean you should just do it anyway. One of the core parts of any creative pursuit is to know when something doesn’t work and throw those things out in favor of better ideas. “It has to be this way” is not an excuse.
  2. I don’t even agree that this is even true. You can definitely have a game where you play as an unwilling gainer that doesn’t have this sort of system. Refer back to some of the suggestions I made earlier. All of my suggestions were fundamental restructurings that have potential to create games that fix this problem entirely.

Anyway, I’m more than happy to hear people’s defenses for bad ends. I think this conversation isn’t going to go anywhere unless there are advocates on both sides, so don’t take my rebuttal the wrong way.

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IMO rpgmaker fetish games are just overall a bad combination of engine and narrative. Bad ends in ren’py are great because you just see the bad end then easily rollback around it and keep going.

I agree in rpgmaker having a bad end reward the player with interesting fetish content is a bad match. This mostly has to do with the gameplay loop of a) grinding combats and b) having limited save game functionality that does not allow you to save in the middle of combat does not allow you to save in the middle of a conversation does not allow you to save in the middle of a scripted scene and does not allow you to save at a game dialog prompt choice.

An rpgmaker style game with a proper modern 2020 era save game system? That’d solve this problem, but rpgmaker itself is still using a 1990s style savegame system.

If every bad end in an rpgmaker style game was the result of a dialog prompt choice and every dialog prompt choice autosaved? And you had infinitely many save slots? Problem instantly goes away and is solved. The fact that rpgmaker doesn’t offer this is just a flaw in the engine.

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It’s funny that you mentioned Pkinad’s Prison as an example of the concept done right, because I actually think that game is a much more simple and easier to explain example of why the whole thing doesn’t work well as a game.

So, Pkinad’s Prison is clearly a horror-themed fetish puzzle game. You walk around an area and solve environmental puzzles to move through the game and finally reach the end. And, in the end, you’re rewarded with a nice scene of the character getting to a massive size. This is fine, and if the game were just this, I honestly wouldn’t have any issues.

The problem comes with the bad ends. See, the bad ends are just something that makes you have to play sections of the game over again just to purposefully fail certain sections. There’s nothing new or mechanically significant about just running into one of the enemies on purpose. You just do it, like an item on a checklist. Remember, this is a puzzle game, yet most of the endings aren’t achieved through solving puzzles, they’re achieved through purposefully failing the puzzles. Getting all the endings is just a process of doing everything you’ve already done multiple times and just trying to fail on every individual puzzle hoping for a new bit of artwork. It’s tedious and counterproductive.

Now, how would I fix the game? Simple, I would make all the bad ends their own puzzles. The main puzzle path of the game ends in WG anyway, so we can fix any resulting ludonarrative dissonance with added story and environmental context. For example, the kitchen ending could be reworked so that the normal solution requires adding ingredients to the pot. Finding x amount gets you on the path to the main ending, but there are more to find. By finding them all, boom, secret ending. The ending with the basic guards could be reworked so that in order for them to fatten the MC up, you need to put on a disguise, which the MC things will help her sneak by, but actually make them think she’s too thin.

Point is, these problems are solvable, and I think this would result in a much better game experience. I like Pkinad’s Prison, but that game could be so much better. As it stands, it’s just a puzzle game that makes me do certain sections multiple times so I can fail at different points and get all the endings.

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