Galatea's endings (abounding in spoilers)

In case the subject wasn’t clear enough: there will be spoilers in this thread. Probably a lot of spoilers, and possibly not hidden by spoiler tags. Read at your own risk.


According to an IFwiki user, Galatea has 70 endings, and I expect most people who’ve played Galatea have replayed to see some of the different stories available. Of the endings you’ve seen there are probably some you liked and some you didn’t, and maybe you have a favourite or favourites.

But I was wondering about a more specific question. Is there a particular ending (or endings) that you think of as the ending? If so, why? Because it was the first ending you came to? Because it seems to fit the work as a whole so well? If not, are there any endings that you think of as more important/canonical/true to the story than others?

I’ve always thought of the Reflections ending as the major ending. In case you don’t know which I mean, it’s this one:

[spoiler]>A GALATEA
“What are you really?” you demand, troubled by the memory of the shifting of her shape, the qualities of stone that come and go at her will.

“I’m not dangerous to you.” She gives you a look that seems almost pitying. “Except perhaps to your sanity. But you seem hardy enough.”

“But that doesn’t explain anything,” you complain. She is silent, apparently reluctant.

“Are you made of some kind of new material?” you demand, casting about. “Somehow become self-aware? A shape-shifter?”

Her silence persists.

“A daemon?”

She laughs. “That’s a closer explanation than any other that you are likely to come up with,” she says. “And if you’re willing to entertain the notion–”

You aren’t, of course, not really, but it’s too late to tell her that now, too late to cram reality back into its box. With a laugh like that of a child being let outside, she turns – to wood, the color and style of a product of Old Kingdom Egypt. To glass, faceted, her hair scattering the downshot light to a thousand tiny points. To a sculpture of sand, to a pillar of salt, to flowing water, to flame.

And finally her substance has fled entirely, and she is only a shadow, passing around you in a cool whisper.

“I am what you think I am; I am what your treatment makes of me.”

*** The End ***[/spoiler]

I’ll be the first to admit it’s not the most satisfying ending, and it’s certainly not my favourite. The reason I think of it as the main ending is partly mundane: I always seemed to get that ending. I’d talk to Galatea for ages about all sorts of things, and when I ran out of ideas, I’d ask her about herself again. But also, in a way that ending sums up my experience of Galatea. I want to know who and what she is, but the game never gives me a definite answer. Maybe she’s really a statue come to life, but maybe she isn’t. Whatever she is, it’s partly a result of the choices I make as I play.

The ending I get most often after wandering around through the conversation is Portents and Omens. (I always feel kind of dirty typing in commands from a walkthrough in this game.)

I don’t think of any of the endings as canonical, just because of the way that the underlying reality can change from play to play – something that was driven home by the ending where

Emily Short herself emerges from behind the curtain. At least that’s who I think it is.

In a way I think the game is meant to reward the player for not trying to break through the facade of Galatea’s programming, by making Galatea more natural the more naturally you interact with her. Such as, if you exhaust one of her topics early on, the PC thinks something supercilious about how she’ll never convince anyone with such a limited database, which always makes me feel like a heel. (Paradoxically: In the story Galatea is a person that the PC is treating like a program, whereas in reality Galatea is a program that I’m treating like a person.)

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I generally prefer the endings where the PC has accepted that she’s not some sort of robot, since that seems somewhat in accordance with the whole aspect of the game that’s thematically about interactive characters in games (see Matt’s pithy last sentence above). And more specifically, I’d probably go for one of the ones where they form some sort of friendship, or Galatea is convinced to stop sulking and enjoy the world around her, since that seems like a resolution to her own story, and also appeals to the part of me that’s a sentimental sucker.

I’m also fond of the ending where, in order to demonstrate her free will, she angrily snaps the player character’s neck. I don’t think I’d want that to be the ending, but it demonstrates why this is one of my favourite games. I mean, given the behaviour of most gamers, you’d think that interactive characters would stand up for themselves more often, and what I love about Galatea is that when the player pushes her, she pushes back.

Exactly. I think pursuing any specific ending, let alone a canonical one, is against the spirit of the game (as appealing as it may be to the player - and yes, I have done this myself). This is supposed to be a conversation, and although you may have goals going into a conversation in real life, because of the nature of the world, and of other people, things pretty much never work out as we expect.

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Well, those would be my favorite endings to get (though “sulking” seems pretty harsh – she’s not unjustified). It’s not even so sentimental because, you know, you helped her do this.

Though there’s a sense in which some of those aren’t my favorite endings. In particular, I didn’t find the ending where you become friends quite so satisfying – partly because

I wasn’t expecting that talking about myself would be the way to make friends with her; though it makes sense, because she might be sick of being poked and prodded, and eager to learn more about people;

but also because the conversation stops being interactive just when it gets to the good part. And how can it not? It’s a lot harder to program a free-form ordinary conversation with friends than the kind of conversation you usually get; at the very least it would require developing the PC’s backstory as much as Galatea’s.

So anyway, the ending that had the biggest emotional impact when I got it the first time was the one where

you prod her too much about love and she kills herself – just turns herself back into a statue.

Partly because I got it myself, unlike most of the ones where she cheers up (many of which involve commands beyond “a something,” I think). But also – well, it seems like the kind of thing that might happen, if you weren’t careful. Of course I try to avoid it now.

It may not even be a successful use of her free will;

Have you tried “Eudoxia”? (I just now discovered that, after trying this one.)

Wow, 70 endings? I had no idea. I only investigated a handful. FWIW the one Emerald quoted is the one that felt most conclusive of those I witnessed, and after I experienced it I had a general (though still uncertain) feeling that I had ‘seen’ the story.

Paul.

EDIT TO ADD:

Wow, a very cool observation.

To be perfectly clear: “sulk” is me being facetious, and “sentimental” was entirely referring to myself and not the game. :wink:

Another paradox, though: the more you understand Galatea’s programming, the easier it is to stick to actions that will seem natural. Taking your example, if you know how much Galatea has to say about a particular topic, you know not to her about it once she’s said all she has to say and can avoid the “pathetic database” comment. Or, as you mention in a later post, knowing that Galatea will kill herself when pressed too hard about a particular subject allows you to avoid that ending. In other words, the better you understand Galatea as a machine, the easier it is to make her seem human.

Likewise.

There’s an ending I discovered the other day which I love for that very reason. The critic attempts to convince Galatea that she is an animate, but she turns his argument right back on him:

[spoiler]> GALATEA, KILL ME
“You don’t believe me when I tell you you’re a machine, but here, I’ll prove it to you,” you
say reasonably. “You have certain constraints that you can’t go against. You can’t harm a
living person, for instance.”

“What are you telling me to do?”

“Just try and hurt me.”

She turns to face you, in a rustle of resettling skirts. “You’re awfully confident.”

You stand there smiling at her, and she sighs. “You’re right, I can’t do it. From where I
stand it feels as though I simply have an objection to violence. Is that what it feels like,
being a machine? Is your code disguised, from your point of view, as moral scruple?”

“How would I know?” you retort.

She tilts her head in acknowledgement. “My point exactly. Maybe we’re both machines;
maybe neither of us is; maybe this whole thing is itself a simulation inside a box
somewhere.”

“An unanswerable bit of Sophistry,” you reply. “You win. For now.” You execute a little
bow, and she laughs as you go out.

*** The End ***[/spoiler]

It’s not a big happy ending; it’s not particularly dramatic. But the critic and Galatea find a connection, the critic learns something, and there’s a bit of meta-commentary. I like that.

To be fair, many of them are variations on a theme. For instance, there’s a bunch of endings where the critic just leaves abruptly, which differ depending on how much time he spent with Galatea and how their relationship developed.

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I had no idea there was so much of Galatea that I hadn’t explored. I can’t say that I terribly regret reading all the spoilers, though, because I didn’t have that much patience for replaying.

Conversation + multiple endings tends to wear me out. I only got to a couple of endings in Alabaster for the same reason. I’ve never been much of a re-reader or a re-player. For one thing, even if replaying doesn’t expose the inner workings of the game, it exposes the fact that the game IS a machine. Sometimes it would be preferable to expose the workings - in every conversation-heavy game that I’ve played, branches seem to hinge on completely arbitrary things like when you bring a subject up, or what words you use to say the same thing. I get to a certain replaying where I say “I wonder what would have happened if I’d said THAT”… but I can’t figure out how to get to that choice because there’s no apparent reason for it.

Maybe real-life conversations are like that, but how could you tell? You never get the chance to start them over in exactly the same state. Call me simplistic, but I like to believe that the outcome of a conversation doesn’t usually depend on the small choices - when you mention a particular thing, or what specific words you use. It’s the big choices, like what you’re talking about overall, what you choose to hide or reveal, or how you treat the other person emotionally. I’ve read lots of Emily’s articles on tracking context and modeling emotional state, but a game has never made me feel like I had any more idea of the emotional path that a conversation takes than I did using a simple context-free ask/tell system.

Wow, how do you guys get such amazing endings! I seem to get all the stuff where the PC gets bored, thinking about the buffet, etc. :laughing: