QUOTE (Shaddowval @ Jan 1 2013, 10:06 PM)
I think some people are misunderstanding what this topic is about. It is not so much about a 'bad ending' as you fail and get an alternate ending as it is more about a 'tragic ending' in which the hero does not win, does not live, does not rescue the princess.
I believe this can be portrayed well and it can be a very moving story. The key element here is to enforce the telling of the story. For example I just went and saw Les Miserables for the first time, it is very tragic and you see that throughout the story, but it is still really good and the ending, while tragic as well, was acceptable and made sense for the story.
What I would say, is basically that your ending must match your story. If it is a sad story, a sad ending is acceptable. If it is a happy go lucky, the hero saves the princess story and at the end you kill him...it is a nice twist, but the player will be very angry.
Right, the OP was just about this. I was thinking of a game with a tragic / apocalyptic setting in which the player is given a hope... and in the end the hope he was looking for is completely different from his expectations. In addition, in the ending the whole party is going to die due to natural phenomena on which the player has no control.
In practice, I've planned a game in which you can expect a bad ending from the beginning and I wondered if this is actually against some unwritten rules about RPG games...