At this stage of the epic, however, the grander story is still not resolved.

Halo 2 ended with an enormous cliff-hanger. The game revealed a plethora of details on the history of the conflict at hand and revealed new levels to the over-arching story, while Master Chief felt more like he was on a ride through the events, rather than doing the discovering himself. The window to the epic opened to reveal the greater war that was playing out, and we were put into the position of discovering what the Master Chief’s role would be. We also had a taste of playing the game NOT from the perspective of the Chief. This was a change from the norm many gamers did not prefer, but to me this was essential in breaking people out of the single storyline frame of mind, and preparing us for what was yet to come with the franchise. In the end, we were left hanging, waiting for the resolution to the Chief’s story.

Here, creators generally have a choice to make. They’ve created a thriving universe, a breeding ground for stories that want to be told. What path do they take? At this point, the universe already has a life of its own from within, so it’s a matter of whether the creators want to take or guide it somewhere new, or shut it down completely. First thing’s first though: the primary conflict must be resolved. Typically, a trilogy (whether in three iterations, or generically the beginning, middle, and end in a series, though an epic story doesn’t need to be more than one production) would now take the main character(s) on their primary quest – their destiny, as it were. Having found their place in this new world they’ve discovered and explored, they’re now pushed into playing out their destiny to whatever end that may be – tragic or ‘happily ever after’.

But what then? Depending on the scope of this universe, there may yet be stories still waiting to be told, or questions not yet answered. What of the hero? What of all the other side characters the audience may have grown to love? This is why I also believe that an epic story should naturally cause the audience to crave more when it’s complete, to want to find out what happens next, even knowing the main story is done. What do the characters do now? How has this adventure changed their lives? Is this really the end? It’s the point where an epic story can become an epic franchise.

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