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"Meaningful evil"

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How should prewritten stories handle evil? People say that many computer games have comic evil, mo' money, hulk smash, unnecessarily rude dialogue etc that isn't satisfying.

 

What's your definition of meaningful evil and how'd you deal with the issues of translating that into a computer game?

 

Issues? I can think of a main one. Unless the game's DM'd, most stories, scripts, dialogues are prewritten and can't organically adjust to the players' actions like in PnP. Therefore the options and dialogue trees are probably going to be limited.

 

Personally I'd like to see more cunning and manipulative evil. Suave and stylish too.

 

 

PS. I thought I'd post this here because PnP'ers may have more experience with these kinda things and may have more discussion.


Spreading beauty with my katana.

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Using KOTOR2 as an example..

 

The dialouge was pretty much black/white - a good option, bad option and a neutral option. all easy to recongnize and became repetative after awhile.. the evil always dealt with unnecessary cruelty or just being a bully - while the good was altruistic and selfsacrifising. I would've liked for the evil character to pretend he was good with a [lie] option similar to the good.. so you could gain influence by pretending to be good - and slowly manipulate the NPCs after they had trusted you for a while.

 

But this wan't my main problem, it was the fact that even after you corrupted your npcs they still required you to do the same good acts (or evil) in order to keep your influence.. I would've liked to see a more apadaptive dialouge.


Fortune favors the bald.

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would've liked for the evil character to pretend he was good with a [lie] option similar to the good.. so you could gain influence by pretending to be good - and slowly manipulate the NPCs after they had trusted you for a while.

 

Bingo. See PS:T dialogue, which had a great deal of [Truth] [Lie] options. I would have loved to have options such as that in say NWN2. No need to be rude and alienate your allies when you can lie, bluff and pretty much play a puppet master with people from the shadows without resorting to "You give me money or I kill you/dont help you/ROAR!1".

 

Evil doesnt necessarily mean you have to actually be psychopathic evil murdering gold hungry fiend. Aside from all the killing, most people nowadays would be labeled as evil if real life was a game.

 

Either playing or going against a manipulative that isnt aiming for the end of all life can be more fun then playing the rightous paladin going against the cliched destroyer of worlds no 234234.

Edited by Percival

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But this wan't my main problem, it was the fact that even after you corrupted your npcs they still required you to do the same good acts (or evil) in order to keep your influence.. I would've liked to see a more apadaptive dialouge.

 

right, having alignment play any significant role in influence was a very bad thing....sure, there will be people you just can't reach. but that is what party management is for.

 

influence should be along the lines of letting Bao-Dur help you fix the speeder (which was part of the game), going to the pistol range with Mandalore, etc...and, there should be opportunity costs with influence, and not just of the romantic variety (i.e. the whole Visas/Handmaiden thing).

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I think Obsidian was just perfecting the influence systemin KotOR:TSL.


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I think Obsidian was just perfecting the influence systemin KotOR:TSL.

 

[sLIGHT SPOILER ALERT]

 

you mean "pushing the envelope?" since they had already done pretty much what I described in the Fallout games and in PST.

 

that would have been fine had they adjusted the NPCs dialogues and cutscenes. Visas, for instance, never has a LS thing to say even if she is swayed all the way over to LS Mastery.

 

still, unless you are going to pay through the nose for this kind of influence, I don't like the PC changing NPC's alignments very much. it was too much built in to the PC's backstory...didn't cost nearly enough.

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Personally I'd like to see more cunning and manipulative evil.  Suave and stylish too.

I'd like to see this option too, but let's hope they never get rid of Mo' Money Evil ("I'd like to make a withdrawal - REACH FOR THE SKY!") and Hulk Smash Evil ("Me smash you into squishy fishy bits!").

 

They must keep these options - in name of comedy! :D

Edited by jaguars4ever

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I think even a utilisation of well-known personality cliches can make for a bigger variety of Good and Evil. For example:

 

-> Good: man who will stop at nothing and will commit lesser evils to save ze world - i.e. if you dont give me that keycard i'm going to kill you, because i need it to save the people.

 

-> Evil: or rather amorality, where dialogue options denounce the flimsy notion of morality and one acts in self-interest, which does not exclude helping others depending on the situation

 

-> Evil: kill everyone, etc, etc.

 

-> Good: Pursues a particular moral or legal code that overrides all feelings of compassion and pity.

 

etc, etc.

 

The problem is that the current dialogue system in CRPGs treat each dialogue choice as a separate one; there is no interrelationship or the creation of a real personality. It is possible to talk to one beggar and be nice, then be evil, then be sadistic, etc, etc - in other words, play a compelte schitzo. The game deals with simple variables (Good points, etc) so that a composite picture can never appear; that is why everything is so simplified. If we were to, say, script it thus:

 

Please give me money, good sir. I'ms o hungry!

A) Yes.

B) No.

 

A-> Oh, thank you, sir! Thank you.

A) Here, guards! Guards! He's taking my money! He's a thief!

B) Right, just so I know you're not some druggie, I'm going to follow you and make sure you get food with that.

C) Bye, hope I have been of help.

 

B -> But sir, I'm so hungry!

A) Do I look like I care?

B) Try working instead of begging for food, it will be better for you in the long term.

C) Sorry mate. If I give you money here, then it will break down the social structure and people won't be rewarded for hard work! Its nothing personal, but I can't give you money in good conscience.

 

Now, dialogues like this exist in current games. However, there is no correlation, composition, relation between your first choice of answer and your second choice. This is grossly simplified, of course - but in the current system you'd get "Evil" points for first picking No, then get Good points ironically (or get nothing) for picking C) afterwards. You would end up with G/E points cancelling each other out, or just being termed evil. But what if the system was revamped so that the system considers ALL the dialogue choices you picked in a paritcular conversation branch before dealing out "points"? For example, B->C would give you, say, Lawful Good points, but I don't know, crank down on the Compassion point meter. A->A would give Evil and perhaps Chaotic points? Sadistic points?

 

So you see the challenge is to create a system where there are enough 'categories' to reflect these multiplitous facets of a personality, then use these variables in a complex set of scripts that recognise a person's consistent personality and direction at least within a conversation branch, if not throughout the game, isntead of judging each dialogue choice by itself.

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Tigranes,

 

I think you about hit it. Perhaps the easiest way to somewhat achieve what you are talking about is to first weigh whether the response was Lawful or Chaotic.

 

So, in this scenario, a young child whose mother was recently killed by invading forces asks the PC "Is my mother dead?".

 

PC's response options:

 

1) Yes.

2) No.

3) I don't know.

4) I don't know but such a nice girl needn't worry herself with such things.

5) Don't know, don't care.

 

if the PC chooses option 1, then he has chosen the only Lawful response as that is the only truthful response. Any other response will result in a shift toward Chaos in the Law/Chaos barometer.

 

Option 2 (No) and 3 (don't know) are effectively the same answer and would not, on their own, involve a shift on the Good/Evil axis.

 

Option 4 is essentially the same as Option 3 except it also Patronizes the NPC.

That would be logged the same way as Option 3 but with a Personality shift towards Patronizing (well, such a thing *could* be done....3 different barometers).

 

Option 5, in my opinion anyway, is not only Chaotic but Evil as well. This response would involve a shift towards Evil (DS, Bad, etc) in addition to Chaotic.

 

now, that was just to illustrate how the system may not be able to make a LS/DS shift based on one answer alone but can definitely make Law/Chaos decisions every single time there is a PC response.

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I've think mini-adventures would be fun too (and skippable if the player's not interested).

 

Say the beggar was a little kid in the town, and after talking to the PC the player takes control of the girl temporarily and has her own mini quest - say deliver days earnings/food to family (mom or mafia, or mom running mafia). Depending on how the player treated the girl she could handle things differently (say bribing guard to get home safely etc).

 

The girl herself could do evil things (maybe she's the "mom" running the "family") and you could have different (evil?) outcomes that affect the original (good?) player later on.


Spreading beauty with my katana.

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If you portray "evil" characters who are inspired by one or more of the seven deadly sins they should be convincingly corrupt.

 

:p


As dark is the absence of light, so evil is the absence of good.

If you would destroy evil, do good.

 

Evil cannot be perfected. Thank God.

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If you portray "evil" characters who are inspired by one or more of the seven deadly sins they should be convincingly corrupt.

 

:thumbsup:

 

yes, but they would also be polarizing. so, if you are playing a Sith Lord with the Corrupt feat (or whatever it is called), the PC should be able to sway some but others will leave the party.

 

the problem with giving the PC alignment-changing powers over the followers is directly proportional to the lack of party management in the newer games.

 

fine, give us followers who are easily swayed but also make it believable (i.e. some will leave) and introduce opportunity costs (if you want to be surrounded by fanboys, you have to give up some quality followers)....in other words, the mindless acolytes aren't in the same league as the more independent-minded.

 

As someone mentioned on another thread, persuasive powers should shine during the actual story encounters, not so much with the NPC joinables.

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give us followers who are easily swayed but also make it believable (i.e. some will leave) and introduce opportunity costs (if you want to be surrounded by fanboys, you have to give up some quality followers)....in other words, the mindless acolytes aren't in the same league as the more independent-minded.

I like this.


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You can have quality followers of evil, as long as they're not just "followers." Even evil characters can team together for joint benefits.


"Show me a man who "plays fair" and I'll show you a very talented cheater."

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Sure, but if the leader was in a weak position, then the followers would be tempted to usurp the following by killing the leader.


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it would be great if you were forced to deal with the cloakndagger schemes of your evil shipmates - that tries to usurp you in creative ways, just to avoid fighting you (unless of course they think they are strong enough for that)


Fortune favors the bald.

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What's this, my big long post isn't rewarded with other big long posts to groan over? :shifty:

 

Tangential from Ros' post, but I think slander could also be very interesting. To continue the ship situation, say you are lost inside some dungeon, or out on the high seas on a ship, and the NPCs are trying to deceive you and deceive each other (as opposed to them deceiving each other and telling you the truth, which is what usually happens); a little bit of mystery and detective work never hurt, without stupid journal entries and arrows that mark the X. Slander is always always fun, especially if your double-dealing gets found out by NPCs. That can work well with usurpation and stuff you were talking about.

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Yeah, evil incarnate is meant to encompass "Lord of Lies" and that should make finding out the truth (i.e. what everyone has been saying to everyone else) as difficult as trying to understand a David Lynch plot.


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Sure, but if the leader was in a weak position, then the followers would be tempted to usurp the following by killing the leader.

 

Stereotyped chaotic evil, maybe. Killing other team members just weakens the group as a whole.


"Show me a man who "plays fair" and I'll show you a very talented cheater."

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Dunno about the pejorative "stereotyped" adjective there; human sociological behaviour is such that if someone in the hierarchy sees their chance to gain some seniority they will take it, so long as the risk is reasonable: "reasonable risk" includes the chance that group remains relatively intact. There is no love lost for an old leader, especially one who has ruled with an iron fist.


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Dunno about the pejorative "stereotyped" adjective there; human sociological behaviour is such that if someone in the hierarchy sees their chance to gain some seniority they will take it, so long as the risk is reasonable: "reasonable risk" includes the chance that group remains relatively intact. There is no love lost for an old leader, especially one who has ruled with an iron fist.

Yes, but only if and not a way to obtain any sort of reasonably "meaningful evil." Only a cheap imitation of chaotic evil with no greater cohesion.

Edited by Tale

"Show me a man who "plays fair" and I'll show you a very talented cheater."

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Characters in the game could also try lying to the player. Whether the player sees through it depends on his/her stats I guess. I guess if the player shows that s/he's a competent leader that they can't easily mess around with they'd be impressed.

 

I'd have lots of fun with another NPC with high bluff/diplomacy skills that we could play off each other (back and forth banter) to trick others in conversations and stuff. Much opportunity for hillarity!


Spreading beauty with my katana.

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I was under the impression that (at least in D&D) conversation skills like diplomacy, bluff, etc. aren't used against the PCs. That might work in a computer game, but in PnP it might be considered overzealous DMing if a player who is obviously skeptical of an NPC fails against the NPC's roll and is effectively forced into believing a lie, or at least not being able to actively detect one. A good, attentive player shouldn't need to rely on rolls in conversation like that in the first place.

 

It adds a nice element of uncertainty to the gameplay by taking that out as well. It's always fun when players don't know who to place their trust in. It's more fun when they put their trust in the wrong person.

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I was under the impression that (at least in D&D) conversation skills like diplomacy, bluff, etc. aren't used against the PCs. That might work in a computer game, but in PnP it might be considered overzealous DMing if a player who is obviously skeptical of an NPC fails against the NPC's roll and is effectively forced into believing a lie, or at least not being able to actively detect one. A good, attentive player shouldn't need to rely on rolls in conversation like that in the first place.

 

It adds a nice element of uncertainty to the gameplay by taking that out as well. It's always fun when players don't know who to place their trust in. It's more fun when they put their trust in the wrong person.

 

Doesn't that help put to use the Sense Motive skill in the case of lying?


"Show me a man who "plays fair" and I'll show you a very talented cheater."

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