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GhostofAnakin

No Good or Evil? Two "Grey" Choices

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Firstly, I just hope that when I get the list of choices, whether it's just two choices (completely sensible in certain situations, despite what some people say) or much more choices, the game will not tell me which one is 'good', which one is 'grey' and which one is 'evil' (this also means the game mustn't sort them in order of evilness). I want to make my choice based on my beliefs, my opinions, my ethics. The characters in the game may give their own opinions and preferences, but they must not always represent the The Cosmic Wisdom. Also, the game must not inform me afterwards whether I made a good or evil choice (no paragon/renegade points, please).

 

Secondly, there must not always be good choices and/or evil choices available. Sometimes - I'd even say usually - no matter what you choose, your choices will result in both good and evil, in varying amounts - and depending on perspective.

 

Furthermore, I don't want to know the full consequences of my choice immediately after making it, but much, much later - and some of those consequences must be unintended.

 

The best morality system is no morality system.

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Just bored with games where you have constant unreasoned, but conveniently sorted top down good/neutral/evil replies on each step. Smile to him/ignore him/spit to his face. Protect by your life/ignore/stab at the back. For me talk is not about overused "shades of gray", but about not polar choices. I think all three of saint, damned and ignorant are often inadequate and silly. To be made to choose only from them is... strange. Not to go to the other extreme - if you forced to choose from artificially gray options being unable to choose obvious morally good or bad decision - that's not good at all too.

Reasonable choices, carefully described circumstances, decisions with lack of information without good-bad-ometer instantly popping up - that'd be tempting.

 

*Wait, we are talking about game by Obsidian? Being developed according to their likes?

 

___

Looks like i've been ninja'd by Caerdon ) Or simply should refresh more often )

Edited by SGray
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I must not have explained it well enough.

 

Basically, take two games: the Witcher and KOTOR. In the Witcher, you don't make choices that follow the usual good or evil definition, but rather you make one of two equally grey choices. In Mass Effect, you choose good (Light Side) or bad (Dark Side). Each choice is clearly defined, thus making them easy to pick between depending on what kind of character you're playing.

 

Mass Effect didn't have good and evil, but Renegade and Paragon.

And that wans't clearly good nad evil. Soem renegade choices were clearly more "good" or better than paragon ones.

 

 

That said, I dont' want the choice system to be formulaic. If you do that it feels just as a fake as the good/evil one.

 

I want chocies to be whatever it makes sense for them to be. Sometimes clear good and evil, sometimes not, sometimes a mix of everything.

 

I doubt that any of the Renegade choices were intended to be "more good" than paragon choices. I don't recall any paragon choices that were anything other than WWJD responses. I think the problem comes in that there are no consequences to playing 100% paragon, you just miss out on some shortcuts. So instead of lightside/darkside, you have to choose between playing by the book, or breaking the rules to get the job done... but you get the job done just as well, if not better, by playing by the rules, so more often than not Renegade ends up being reckless, pointless douchebaggery. If you only ever played as renegade, you might not realize this and therefore have an awesome narrative about someone who took the tough decisions to get the job done... but that bubble gets burst as soon as you play a perfect paragon game where you accomplish just as much without doing the same controversial things.

 

These morality mechanics always end up as being shallow, gamey, frustrating, polarizing nonsense. Which is why I'm glad that P:E is to use reputation mechanics rather than morality mechanics.

 

I prefer that writers simply write intelligent dilemmas and complicated choices, and leave it up to the player to pass moral judgment on their own actions. The world should react to you, praise and condemn you appropriately based on the cultural mores of the setting, but the task of determining the right thing to do should not be done for you as though the narrative is cutting the crust off your bread so that you don't have to.

 

There's been some points raised that the presence of moral extremes is necessary to validate the middle ground. I think there's some validity there but I'm not entirely in agreement. In my experience, as soon as the extremes are defined and catered to, the middle starts to erode.

 

The presence of clear "evil" choices does do well to contrast the other choices you get to make, sure. But the presence of the "irredeemable" option goes a long way to whitewash all the other choices by virtue of its inclusion. At the same time, the presence of the clear good choice steals the legitimacy of all the choices in the middle ground, such as DA:O's Redcliff cop out. If there's an obviously good option without real, unpleasant consequences, then every option that isn't obviously good and that does have consequences is therefore "the wrong choice". If there's an obviously evil option to contrast that, then you still have a polarized narrative, just with extra wishy-wash stuff in the middle to obfuscate the fact.

 

The problem with using objective morality is that certain good and certain evil have to be defined, and they will end up being defined by the person who is writing the narrative. Which works for novels, films, media in which the consumer is a passive participant. But for my part, when I'm playing a game and being an active participant in the narrative, there are few things I find less appealing than championing someone else's moral values. Don't lead me by the nose to the conclusion you want me to take, don't outright tell me what is good and what is evil as if I'm supposed to agree with you because I'm playing through your creation, and above all don't construct your narrative in such a way that I have to buy into your particular pretentious values in order to enjoy the story I'm being told. Preachy narratives that bludgeon me over the head with some other guy's value system and present the things he hates as villainous strawmen have put me off of so many franchises that I used to enjoy that now I just have no patience for it. The instant I feel like I'm participating in someone else's political statement, I disconnect.

 

So I love the Witcher games because when I play them I never feel like I "meet" the psyche of the lead writer and am being led by the nose down his interpretations of what is good and what is not, whereas some other games sometimes make me feel like I've been dragged into a therapist's office to listen someone air his baggage. And Obsidian hasn't done that either, to their credit, so I'm expecting intelligent writing and authentic dilemmas, not a preachy morality cartoon that I could get from early afternoon TV.

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House was clearly one of humanities last hopes, someone that could bring society and technology back. By killing him you made the Mojave and the rest of the world a darker place. House was the future. Some might claim he was a grey choice but I don't see it.

 

He was also quite frank about being an iron-fisted despot who asks you to do things like blow up an entire compound full of men, women and children, as well as urging you to refrain from killing a megalomaniacal mass murderering child slaver like Caesar because he's 'useful' for keeping the NCR in check. Realpolitik to the extreme. Moreover, when he wins, he uses his securitrons to exterminate some relatively harmless groups in the New Vegas area just for being friendly with the NCR.

 

Yeah.

 

Of the four choices you had in New Vegas, I'd say three were grey and one was black. You're certainly right about Caesar's Legion. The vision they had, of a sort of Fascist dictatorship that nevertheless made the proverbial trains run on time, never translated into the game itself, where they just came across as an army of sociopaths, luddites, slavers and misogynistic douchebags. Their leader was painted as a huge hypocrite and their philosophy as ultimately pretty empty. A Caesar's Legion victory was the 'evil' victory by any sane definition.

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Getting lost in the fog was always more intriguing to me than obvious red/blue this choice is bad this choice is good, as far as the game system is concerned, methods.


"Step away! She has brought truth and you condemn it? The arrogance!

You will not harm her, you will not harm her ever again!"

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He was also quite frank about being an iron-fisted despot who asks you to do things like blow up an entire compound full of men, women and children

 

Are you talking about the boomers who's desire is to have a plane so they can do bombing runs on other settlements? Or the brotherhood the take any advance technology for themselves and their own benefit?

 

Both add danger and death to the Mojave and the rest of America without any benefit.

 

, as well as urging you to refrain from killing a megalomaniacal mass murderering child slaver like Caesar because he's 'useful' for keeping the NCR in check. Realpolitik to the extreme.

 

Lest get the facts right here, NCR wants rid of him, so they can claim NV and it's wealth and resources as their own. In the short term letting the Legion and NCR makes sense for the benefit of NV. He's not aiding Legion, he's just standing idle for the time being. There is nothing evil or dark there. History has many states/powers doing this.

 

Moreover, when he wins, he uses his securitrons to exterminate some relatively harmless groups in the New Vegas area just for being friendly with the NCR.

Yeah.

 

You mean groups that are allied with a nation that was hostile to NV? Sounds eerily familiar to something........

 

In the end you're thinking about rainbows and butterflies good. Classic fairytale good, which has no place in Fallout.

 

Under Legion, the Mojave is destined for oblivion.

 

Under NCR, the Mojave becomes part of a larger nation with the protection that brings. But it's also nation filled with instability, corruption, and quite frankly stagnation.

 

Under PC/Yes, the Mojave is 'free'(Or under a tyrannical PC) but is nothing, and would be eventually eaten up by NCR, Legion or another power. .

 

Under House the Mojave has a stability, protection, but most importantly a actual future. But not just that, a hopeful one.

 

House was a genius with a plan for the future. Not one where the survivors just survived but one where they flourished. Good is not just about being 'I won't hurt a fly'. It's about making the hard choices for the best of the majority. In that world, killing House is almost a death knell for it. Not because he had power, or because he resources, but because his way had a future. None of the rest did. NCR was a repeat of past failures, Legion was a dead end. And the yes man one was a selfish power grab or a delusional anarchy attempt.

 

For those reasons going forward, there was only 1 choice for an actual good character to make. House.

 

Legion and the power grab evil.

 

NCR and free NV, grey/neutral.


cylon_basestar_eye.gif

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The problem is not having blatantly good and blatantly bad choices. It's about them being simple, being out of context and not following any concept.

 

Seriously, if a rebel tries to rouse people to overthrow the king, do you spare the rebel and let him go, join him, imprison him or just execute the bastard at the spot? That's a bit dry of a choice, isn't it? Neither option has any backing whatsoever except your mood at the moment. And neither gives you any idea why would you choose it.

 

Would you spare the rebel, because you think he will reevaluate his way of thinking? Would you join the rebel because you hate monarchy? Or would you join him to be a double agent? Would you imprison the rebel for his crimes, so that he would get himself both useful at a quarry(for the king's glory) and reform at the same time? Or would you be so angry to be woken up this early so that you'd execute the rebel on the spot? Or maybe you execute the rebel because you know about the upcoming coup and this idiot just almost blew the whole thing? Or are you really devoted to your liege and would not tolerate some riffraff badmouthing your beloved and just king? Or will you release the rebel, secretly hoping that he would succeed in assasinating the king, who you're very offended by as he did not invite you to the royal hunt last summer?

 

Morals is not universal. You can't say that something is 100% good out of context. You need to back up the available options with concepts.

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I support this too.

 

Dragon Age: Origins, The Witcher and Planescape: Torment had better morality systems compared to games like Fable, KOTOR and Mass Effect.

 

Although to be fair I think Fable wouldn't be the same without its overexaggerated 'light vs. dark heroes vs. villains' thing but maybe that is my nostalgia talking.

 

The only problem would be if the game shoved the grey morality in your face.

 

i.e the game makes you slaughter and crucify baby kittens in order to keep order in a city, or you have to sacrifice your family to save dozens of people and etc. etc.

 

They have to keep choices like that in moderation.

 

EDIT: Although Planescape: Torment did have an alignment thing if I remember correctly. But it starts off blank and I remember not paying too much attention to it when I played through. I just acted like myself and let it do its thing. Much better than having to choose an alignment like most Crpgs make you do in my opinion.

 

EDIT 2: The Fallout games also had good morality systems...I actually did a lot of scumbag things in Fallout 2 so I could get money I really needed. The game was pretty challenging for me when I first played it.

Edited by Halberd

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The presence of clear "evil" choices does do well to contrast the other choices you get to make, sure. But the presence of the "irredeemable" option goes a long way to whitewash all the other choices by virtue of its inclusion. At the same time, the presence of the clear good choice steals the legitimacy of all the choices in the middle ground, such as DA:O's Redcliff cop out. If there's an obviously good option without real, unpleasant consequences, then every option that isn't obviously good and that does have consequences is therefore "the wrong choice". If there's an obviously evil option to contrast that, then you still have a polarized narrative, just with extra wishy-wash stuff in the middle to obfuscate the fact.

 

THAT. If I want to play a sociopath, it's okay to have really evil options*. If I want to play a saint, it' perfectly okay to have the saintly options. But if you want to play the average dude who tries his/her best to do good, but ultimately f***s some things up because things are usually not so clearly black and white... well... the presence of such options completely obliterates the character concept. Having clear good and clear evil, and no unseen consequences for making seemingly obvious choices... just kills the suspense of such a playthrough. I want to doubt my decision and hope that I did the right thing, but sit on the edge of my seat in anticipation of the possible consequences. (Also, the other thing that kills it is not showing the consequences. While I can understand it from a design standpoint ['if we show the consequences, that's equivalent of deciding what's morally right or wrong in the situation, which a) is pretty arrogant, b) kinda defeats the purpose of moral dilemmas and c) completely robs the player of the ability of making such judgements for himself'], I also think that it cheapens the choice, or make it a non-choice with the same outcome [hoping for the best and being none the wiser] which is even worse.)

 

*They should have real consequences though... whether rising to power through macchiavellian manipulations, like Littlefinger in GoT, or being executed like a rabid dog in case you were not careful enough.


"Lulz is not the highest aspiration of art and mankind, no matter what the Encyclopedia Dramatica says."

 

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What I liked about Torment was that you could choose between choices which were no game choices. You could say the exact same thing but choose if it was true and one was a lie. I'd love to see more of that.

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People seem to miss the point of grey choices. They are not to be confused with neutral choices. Grey exists in situations where there is no right choice. Whatever action or inaction you do will lead to good and bad, so you have to choose who benefits and who suffers. Sometimes there might seem to be an apparent good choice that leads to unforeseen consequences that really made the choice grey in nature. Choosing good too often leads to winning without consequence.

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My thoughts on how character powers and urgency could be implemented:

http://forums.obsidi...nse-of-urgency/

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People seem to miss the point of grey choices. They are not to be confused with neutral choices. Grey exists in situations where there is no right choice. Whatever action or inaction you do will lead to good and bad, so you have to choose who benefits and who suffers. Sometimes there might seem to be an apparent good choice that leads to unforeseen consequences that really made the choice grey in nature. Choosing good too often leads to winning without consequence.

Hrm. Then it's not an issue of grey choices per se but with developers deliberately marking choices with 'good' or 'bad' even if neither apply, or even if essentially the labeling is reversed. And again - spherical Good/Bad in vacuum don't exist: they have to have some conceptual backing.

 

This is greately illustrated in Star Wars: The Old Republic MMORPG. It has a not really well thought-out lightside-darkside system. But I could live with it, if not for obvious blatantly bad choice outlining.Example: you are an imperial character, boarding a republican space vessel carrying a known imperial defector. When you finally meet the traitor face-to-face he is badly injured and is at your mercy. At this point the developers give you a choice with two options: Kill the traitor(marked as a Dark choice) and Capture him alive(marked as Light choice).

 

The problem here is that developers didn't try to think, they simply marked those Dark/Light options because they had to. Because it's allegedly kind of important to have such a choice. But let me delve into logic here and see what these choices are really about:

 

1) DARK OPTION - Kill the traitor

Yes, it could be viewed as Dark choice if you kill the traitor simply because you want to. But what if you kill him out of mercy? He's already gravely wounded and suffering. Not to mention that custody isnt't all ponies and rainbows.(we'll get to that later) Doesn't that strike you as a Light choice - to kill out of mercy?

 

2) LIGHT OPTION - Take traitor into custody

That's where things get tricky, because if the first option could've been viewed as it was marked - this one has no way of being viewed as a Light Side option. It could be either a Dark one, or a cowardly Neutral one. The Dark one is obvious: The Empire is quite known for torturing prisoners well beyond the point of madness. So taking the traitor into custody you are ensuring decades of inhumane torture and pain with no release and certain ugly death in future. This is even confirmed during a later conversation with another NPC. How is that a Light choice? Well, it could be a cowardly Neutral one - when you hypocritically don't want to get your hands dirty so you let the Empire's torturers do it.

 

 

That's my problem with good/bad side mechanics - usually developers don't leave enough space for nuances. And that just doesn't help the immersion, when you look at the options provided and think: "WTF!? Neither of these is what I want to do! And you got the markings reversed on those options!@

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Reality is never as easy as good and evil, but we've had the idea of this polarity bashed into our brains since we were children by Disney and the rest of society. It makes everything so much easier to digest. Selfishness and altruism, small picture and big picture, chaos and order, these are real. They aren't going to not let you roleplay evil overlord or sanctified paladin, the choices you make will just feel more genuine as you do them.

And theres no grey-zones in bioware games. I remember Jade Empire was going to do a great moral system, the dichotomy between the zen-like open palm martial artist and the nihilist closed fist. It pretty much devolved into a give-money-to-the-poor/take-money-from-the-poor system of morals.

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If you want gray choices go play BioWare games....seriously they are filled with fake choices, identical choices that only appear to be different and the all time favorite choices that do not matter for anything.

 

Bioware games just have meaningless choices. All roads leading to the same destination is cheaper from a developers point of view, lame for any replayability.

 

 

Personally I'm all for gray choices, since I'm a Witcher fan. Not because its 'deep' or 'edgy' like many of you condescendingly state, its because its interesting.

 

I actually spend more time on the choice, mulling it over and I can come to regret the choice later or be thankful it turned out well. Obvious good/evil choices just mean I choose based on my players alignment, rather than the choice, giving no real thought. Good/evil choice systems also usually reward both options, since they know people are choosing for the alignment points rather than for the choice. The Witcher games did this well because I still debate choices every time I play it, its never quite right for me to be comfortable with any of the choices.

Edited by TimMc
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I think he's confused . . . gray, foggy choices that challenge morality are not the same thing as meaningless/fake choices that have no effect, or whose effect is just the same as another choice.

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"Step away! She has brought truth and you condemn it? The arrogance!

You will not harm her, you will not harm her ever again!"

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"Bioware games just have meaningless choices. All roads leading to the same destination is cheaper from a developers point of view, lame for any replayability."

 

This simply isn't true. Lots of C&C in BIO games.


DWARVES IN PROJECT ETERNITY = VOLOURN HAS PLEDGED $250.

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What I don't want is a ****ing morality meter - those I can say with certainty are evil. I'd also hope the choices aren't binary good and evil all the time, ala Bioware. That is retarded. It lacks nuance. It's not realistic in any way, and it's plain lazy.

Edited by Gorth
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Because this game will have different races with different cultures and subcultures, I want to see cultural relativism and the "moral" frictions that occur among the boundaries.

 

I have a diverse set of friends across different philosophical, religious, cultural backgrounds: Indian subcontinent, Far East, first and second and third generation immigrants, a generation older than me and younger, Baha'i, Muslim, Christian, Pagan, atheist, etc.

 

What is "correct" in one culture may very well be "wrong" in another, and vice versa. I think the truth I have learned from meeting so many people--who in their own ways try to live good lives and impact the world in positive ways--is how incredibly arbitrary our realities are.... (It's an exceptionally dangerous view, though. ;))

 

I'm confident Avellone will think of some juicy stuff, though.

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The KS Collector's Edition does not include the Collector's Book.

Which game hook brought you to Project Eternity and interests you the most?

PE will not have co-op/multiplayer, console, or tablet support (sources): [0] [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7]

Write your own romance mods because there won't be any in PE.

"But what is an evil? Is it like water or like a hedgehog or night or lumpy?" -(Digger)

"Most o' you wanderers are but a quarter moon away from lunacy at the best o' times." -Alvanhendar (Baldur's Gate 1)

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