When The Music's Over

a Fantasy Adventure by Chris113022

Commended by mizal on 11/9/2019 8:05:12 AM

Player Rating6.66/8

"#63 overall, #4 for 2019"
based on 122 ratings since 11/10/2019
played 3,531 times (finished 141)

Story Difficulty1/8

"no possible way to lose"

Play Length6/8

"It'll be a while, better grab a Snickers®"

Maturity Level7/8

"anything goes"
Some material may be inappropriate for persons under age 18. If this were a movie, it would probably be R.
I hear a very gentle sound... Once you were the bravest hero in the land. Then, the greatest noble. Now, a washed up drunkard past his prime. But when the king asks for you to turn the tide of a war, will you accept, or cast his offer aside to walk your own path? Author's Notes: I originally intended for every single choice to branch out into a unique path, but to get this out I had to cut some of my plans short. There is minor rebranching here and there along with a few duplicate pages that have minor changes depending on how you reached those pages. On top of that, the path for accepting the king's offer is much more bare bones than I wanted it to be and is only about a third of the rest of the game's size (10k to the rest of the game's 30k). Someday, I hope to return to this story and make it the epic it deserves to be. For now, however, the game is finished. The SCORE variable doesn't indicate how good you did. It's just a way to keep track of what ending the reader got. If you play the game, please give a comment. I'd love to hear your thoughts. This game includes a writing prompt, asking the reader to continue the ending they received. It can be found here. Special Thanks: Tim36D - For being my long-suffering best friend and listening to me ramble on about this story. Thanks man. Mizal - For constantly busting my ass to get this storygame done. Boom, now it is. Shadowdrake27 - For proofreading the story. Without him, there would be many typos and grammar errors. The CYS Discord - For being there to let me ramble on about my story on the occasions that Tim wasn't. The entire CYS community - For putting up with me for 5 years now. Stay classy, you omnidirectional vitriol spewers.

Player Comments

When The Music’s Over feels like the free demo of a good game. It’s obvious that the endings could still branch off more, or at least be fleshed out with more detail, but throughout all of the endings I’ve found that there are certain aspects in which this story is lacking. It’s by no means a bad game, there’s just a lot of things that I’d like to see in your story that’s not there.

First of all, it’s my understanding that this isn’t supposed to be a typical ‘save the world from evil’ type story that’s described in the prologue ending. I find the idea of a tired old man regaining his former passion for good intriguing, and you definitely did a good job writing the character to be gruff, and angry at everything. I also liked how doing the morally ‘wrong’ thing didn’t immediately end the story.

I know that ultimately it’s the authors choice how the story unfolds, but I was kind of sad that he never got the girl. There are a couple of opportunities for him to potentially hook up with one of the characters, and I’d really like to see it. I know one of the major aspects of the plot is his history, and it seemed like from the brief memories that there was something going on with him and Grace (I think that’s her name, been a couple of days). If you’re really adamant about him not engaging in any love interests, I’d think it would be nice if you briefly mention something about how he’s still in love with her, as a kind of explanation.

The whole ghost thing seems like it could be cool, but those paths are the most ‘unfinished’ in my opinion. The other paths felt somewhat finished, but the ghost ones didn’t really give anything other than a ‘you have been affected by this. You will be better person now. The end.’ I’d really like to see more here. I enjoyed the 4th wall break a lot. It was executed well, and it made me laugh. Somehow my favorite paths are the ones that end in death, which is probably because there’s a certain finality there that makes it hard for readers to want the story to continue.

The whole thing was good but it could definitely be better. Unlike a lot of stories, there isn’t really any undesirable endings. I’d recommend reading all of them, especially because the best ones aren’t the ones obtained on the first few go throughs. The story is just so compelling it leaves people wanting more.
-- Austinc on 1/23/2020 10:20:00 AM with a score of 32
This was an excellently written piece. Honestly, I know how long it takes to polish a written work of over 40,000 words -- but the author's managed to do it here. I didn't spot any typos or grammatical errors, and the prose itself sounded very good.

I think I read through all the pathways. My favourite ones were (SPOILERS): the ones that focus on the meta-narrative behind the whole story. I think I got two of these endings on my first and second run through the game, correspondingly. Which may have been because I found it intriguing that the protagonist could just ignore the traditional 'adventure' expected in these types of stories and just do things on his own terms. That sounded a lot more interesting, and it was.

I explored virtually every route that involved ignoring King Oren's call, before eventually going. I was pleasantly surprised to note some other very interesting paths which I enjoyed just as much as the first ones, such as (SPOILERS): the ending where we save the town from a demon, or the one where we help the old man in the cabin.

King Oren's route was a bit interesting, too. I like how (SPOILERS): there was no happy ending on this route. We were told at the beginning that it would be a suicide mission, and it was. Clearly the game wanted us to explore alternative pathways in the story. It also emphasized how awful war and such war missions are.

In general, this piece focuses on the heartbreak the protagonist has felt after losing his four friends on the previous noble quest which had made him a 'hero'. He usually hates it when people dub him as a 'hero' for this reason. It's really well-done. You can feel the protagonist's regret and feelings for his friends. So many of the endings discuss different aspects of his relationships with them. Reading through just one of them, you may only catch a little glimpse. Once you've read through most of the endings, you've started to care for them, too. And you start to partake in the protagonist's sense of hopelessness, there.

The game also offers a wide diversity of moral choices. I really liked this. There is a feasible explanation given for why he might choose either option, as well: the moral options show that he still cares, and the immoral options indicate that he's given up -- for what does he have left left, now that all has been taken from him? This keeps the characterization of the protagonist consistent. That being said, the narration of the game strongly encourages the player to choose the more moral options, which I like, but there is something to be gained from reading through all the pathways.

Perhaps most importantly, I loved who the protagonist *was* in this game. I got a real sense for his backstory, and for how he feels about the world. This story does a very good job of exploring the themes of regret, love, and mourning. It resonated with me.

One small recommendation for improvement (and I know this has been mentioned in some of the other reviews): I did feel like one or two pathways were cut off a bit short. I understand that because this game offered such a wide diversity of branching, it wasn't supposed to take long to read through any of the individual paths. But there were some scenes for which I think maybe even just one additional page would've been warranted. For example (SPOILERS): the ending where we succeed on King Oren's mission and are waiting for death from the soldiers. This sounds like such a climactic scene, but it's not described. The result is that the reader feels like they were left hanging.

Overall, When The Music's Over is an adventure-not-adventure story that gives the reader an impressive degree of options to choose from and functions as an overall commentary on the nature of 'adventure', 'heroism', loss, and death. 7/8.
-- Reader82 on 1/23/2020 10:17:22 AM with a score of 27
Well that was quite the ride.

I've been reading this on and off all throughout the day, and it hasn't disappointed. Written almost entirely in Cave of Time style (with the exception of one branch which I'll get to) choices lead you on to story after story with very little retreading.

I'm ashamed to admit I've never listened the theme song in its entirety before. But it fits REALLY well with the tone established in the beginning, I can totally picture the bitter man slowly losing his mind and devolving to a drunk throwing bottles at the wall. Although many of the paths happily go on to prove that he can still be more than that or even find peace and contentment.

Kit just WORKS as a protagonist. As I said in the thread, Disillusioned Old Sword Guy Who Only Wants to Be Left Alone is such an archetypal character type and I believe that's a factor in making him so easy to relate to. The key to many of the paths fit this, so many of them come down simply to what level of apathy he'll be operating at.

There are several paths I wish were longer, but I know that's a trade off with the Cave of Time style, and of course it's better to leave the reader wanting more than wanting to know when it will end. Only one or two out of the MANY endings were abrupt enough they didn't feel like real endings, anyhow, and what we did get fueled the imagination and left me thinking about what happened next. I'm happy you went ahead and made the prompt thread...I do so hope Gower started a trend with that idea, because this story in particular is really suited to it.

The only path that felt weak was the one where you accept the mission and go to the castle. On its own I suppose it's not bad, but when compared to the others it just felt lacking. That's extra unfortunate since 1) I believe a lot of new readers will pick it first while assuming it's the 'canon' path, and 2) it's the only path that has multiple choices looping into it, so it will be encountered more often than the others.

For one thing, it's hard to play a washed up and bitter old hero getting a special summons from the king to go on a quest without feeling like you're about to embark on something epic....and in this case that turned out to essentially be just sneaking through a sewer and burning a warehouse down. I wasn't shown any convincing reason why another knight from Miller's order or even just some normal soldier wouldn't do. In fact, Iris did most of the heavy lifting there on her own.

From following the developments on this in the Discord I was already aware that this was the last section Chris wrote, and he's heading off to Job Corps tomorrow so he had a hard time limit there, so it's pretty clear all of that was a factor. Maybe this path can be revisited and expanded some day.

Even though the mission for the king was a bit of a disappointment plot-wise, the writing itself still held up as well as anywhere else in the story. The proofreading was very thoroughly done for a story this size, I only spotted a handful of typos throughout the whole thing. And the entire style and mood here is such a departure from Chris' usual style, it feels much more mature and contemplative in tone, even a little sad. The first page really captured that sense, and even though there are many satisfying and even happy or uplifting endings you can find, the tone is consistent. Along with that are the touches of realism mixed with the fantastic, and just the right level of detail to make the setting feel lived in by real people; it's all written so smoothly you can't help but slip right into the scenes.

'When you reach the gates, you see two guards ahead; one is watching a firefly intently as it floats around his face, while the other has fallen asleep while standing up.' - Just a random sentence I pulled to demonstrate how a couple of small details to set a scene can make the whole thing grounded so believably and easy to imagine. (It also made me feel like a dick when I killed them a moment later...)

The characters were also standout and worth a moment of appreciation here.

Even in the relatively weak mission for the king path, Iris was great. She had an attitude and was so not impressed with this washed up old drunk and not shy about saying so, and yet she was the only one who had her facts straight about what happened in the past and fondly remembered Grace.

As I've said, many of the paths can be short, and each is practically a standalone story. Yet these characters who only get a few pages apiece are each so memorable. A couple of vivid visual details about them combined with a speaking style that's recognizable for each (without ever going overboard on accents or anything annoying like that) just piles on the personality. I don't believe I ever realized before this how natural Chris' handling of dialogue was.

Wrapping this up, I just want to say that I think out of all the paths, nearly all of which I enjoyed quite a lot, the stand out ending for me was actually the first one I got--the one where Lilith showed up. In fact when I get around to doing the writing prompt to continue an ending, it will certainly be this one, because I badly, *badly* wanted that adventure to continue, and even moreso now after reading the rest of the story for perspective. The shift in Kit's whole worldview after the knowledge she gives would make the entire mission read differently, from a suddenly more hopeful perspective. If this were a novel, that scene would almost have to be canon to give the hero that push they needed to go out and face their demons. (Occasionally literal ones...) I couldn't help but feel afterwards that Kit just leaving on his own felt like he had juuust missed getting to experience something life changingly important.

Anyhow, Chris has really proved that sometimes suffering the continued existence of the edgy racist eleven year olds among us can pay off in spades down the road. And the featuring was well deserved. I'm really pleased he was suddenly so divinely inspired to write this one and was able to gift it to the site right before he left for a bit to get all grown up. This should be inspirational to us all.
-- mizal on 11/11/2019 8:48:15 PM with a score of 27
This story is rather masterfully crafted. I certainly enjoy how it feels as if you aren't truly shackled to one or two paths. It truly feels like an adventure, in the sense that you're given many choices to make that changes the story drastically, and not arbitrarily by any means.

What that leaves, in my opinion, is a story-game that should be experienced multiple times to really enjoy it. However, with how immersive the writing was in pulling me into the hero's footsteps, I would say all of the extra times I've played were just out of personal enjoyment. I couldn’t help but see what I could do, outside of wallowing in my castle, or taking on a band of marauders, or even a dragon.

Honestly, this is just a great story, Chris.

Bravo. :)
-- TharaApples on 2/19/2021 3:24:00 AM with a score of 7
Good story but very short.
-- Celicni on 1/25/2021 4:25:15 PM with a score of 40
This is a good story. Full stop. It follows Kit, a washed up swordsman who’s sick of life and sick of people fawning over him. In and of itself, this isn’t a super original idea for a main character, but it works regardless. You can feel Kit’s apathy oozing from the story, and this makes him really compelling. Too often I’ve read stories-hell I’ve written them even-where the character is just a ball of sunshine and no one can put them down. Not here. Kit’s just tired, washed up, and sick of everything. Sort of like me sometimes, if I’m honest.

This works wonders for the story, which while still good, would fall flat on many fronts without Kit as he is. That being said, the story is very mediocre in general. It had interesting ideas and I felt it resolved well in most of the endings, but still left me wanting more. Some more flesh on the bone in the route where you accept the call would’ve helped with this, as I felt it was the weakest of the paths.

This brings to my next point: That every other character besides Kit was sort of just…there? They don’t see enough action in my eyes and aren’t fleshed out enough to really make me invested in them as characters. However, this is really only a minor complaint, as I enjoyed what I saw of the other characters regardless.

The writing was, in general, good, if maybe a little unpolished. A bit more flourish would’ve really sealed this for me, as it could sometimes feel a little robotic in its tone. But that’s just me, who prefers a little more spice in my writing. It’s clean, concise, and gets the job done. There’s not really too much more I can ask for in that front.

It’s a good story y’all, one that I thoroughly enjoyed from start to finish. While it has some flaws baked in, I can’t dock too much from it in that regard. I appreciate it for what it’s worth and don’t regret my time reading.
-- wheelbarrow on 12/26/2020 2:10:47 PM with a score of 36
good, but too short.
-- rijal on 12/25/2020 2:44:22 PM with a score of 36
-- camandzia on 12/18/2020 10:33:52 AM with a score of 40
Very good "secret ending"
-- Nazhfa on 10/9/2020 6:54:30 PM with a score of 32
This was an awesome adventure, that i really enjoyed not only because of its characters and story but also because it is a story that let me do what i wanted instead of constantly killing me. Thank you.
-- Bashi123 on 8/5/2020 1:43:24 PM with a score of 39
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