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There has been project updates telling us about the fact that on game choises will make, in paricular, the condundrum of "kill one to save many" conundrum. Personally, i like to take a utilitarian (neutral good) approach to it. This is often evaluated by rpg's as sort of evil, but i like to play the character that also acts in favor in helping others. Do you think moral utilitarianism will be detrimental to reputation for being considered not morally praiseworthy?

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The-ends-justify-the-means actions are almost always unpleasant to perform, witness, or even think about. That's a natural trade off between common moral intuition on the one hand and effectiveness on the other. I certainly don't think the game should objectively brand you as evil for doing something controversial, but it would be very weird if you could sacrifice the virgin maid to the scary dragon to spare the town his wrath and be praised for it. I think it is natural and sensible that doing bad things for good results should still net you some reputation penalties and popular condemnation. What is the point of making controversial decisions if there is no controversy?

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Agreed.

 

The problem with "kill one to save many" is that it is based on the premise that you know that killing this guy right now will "save" many later on. And that the "many" had their lives in danger in the first place. For all you know, that cooky witch was full of it.

 

That, and really, whose fault is it? Your fault for not sacrificing the virgin, or the dragon's fault for burning down the village? And why not try to save both? Maybe you can't win everything all the time, but you should be able to try, and the game shouldn't always play out like some sort of greek tragedy where you are continuously punished for trying and the idea is beaten into your skull that if some old kook tells you to murder a village to save the kingdom that you should do that.

 

Actually, more specifically, I hate these false 'moral conundrums' where you are supposed to do something bad to supposedly prevent something much worse from happening later on.

 

To draw a different example, suppose you can rescue a known robber/murderous-thieving-gang leader and set him free -- say, he is being tortured by some unscrupulous bounty hunter whom you don't particularly like. Or maybe the bounty hunter sees you and attacks you.

 

In this case, you could play 'goody-two-shoes' and release the gang leader, maybe even net a small reward and his 'eternal gratitude' -- maybe his gang will leave your party alone! -- at the same time, this action might have adverse consequences for that region in the near future or down the road -- maybe many people will die, and maybe you and your party will become pariahs (if anyone finds out what you did).

 

Overall, that is the sort of moral 'dilemma' I support. It's plausible, and ideally, there would be some chance for you to avoid it altogether (e.g., if you had kept your eyes and ears open for knowledge of robbers in the area) -- and there's some chance to, at least, partially, rectify it -- either by killing him or helping hunt down the gang.

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Overall, that is the sort of moral 'dilemma' I support.

 

I disagree strongly. I hate when games provide you with moral dilemmas in which both possible options are clearly stupid. For this example, where's the 'rescue him then turn them all in to the proper authorities' option?

 

Realistically I think dilemmas are a crutch for not-so-great writing. They almost always feel forced.

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Realistically I think dilemmas are a crutch for not-so-great writing. They almost always feel forced.

 

That's a pretty ridiculous blanket statement, especially when it comes to video game writing.

 

Games themselves could be easily seen as a series of dilemmas and problems for a player to figure out.

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The-ends-justify-the-means actions are almost always unpleasant to perform, witness, or even think about. That's a natural trade off between common moral intuition on the one hand and effectiveness on the other. I certainly don't think the game should objectively brand you as evil for doing something controversial, but it would be very weird if you could sacrifice the virgin maid to the scary dragon to spare the town his wrath and be praised for it. I think it is natural and sensible that doing bad things for good results should still net you some reputation penalties and popular condemnation. What is the point of making controversial decisions if there is no controversy?

 

(Batman voice) but it is a sacrifice that has to be made. The player character is the hero the Eternity universe needs, but not the one it deserves. He/she is an unrecognized savior, a bargainer of souls, a players actions!

 

back to what I was saying... I understand if the player character isn't liked in terms of personality for these kind of actions, but I think that it should carry a certain amount respect, even if unspoken, if the player's actions have done overall good at the cost of making him/her look bad.

 

And Maddas, I agree that your proposed moral dilemma is more practical in a video game.

However, in terms of the idea of 'kill one to save many', I despise the comic book universe mentality about that. Think of it as a system of net consequences. For example, the superhero could detain the supervillain, and as a consequence, he is obviously going to escape at some point and continue to kill others (happens in every comic book), OR the superhero just ended the supervillain's life because he recognizes that the supervillain is too resourceful to be effectively contained. If the superhero let the supervillain go and enabled the deaths of hundreds, it is true that he is not responsible for those deaths, but however DID act irresponsibly in the situation by acting on the assumption that his arbitrary notions of his own 'pure character' are more important than the lives of hundreds. Not only is that egocentric, but also consequential to everybody else.

 

Granted, you can't always know for sure the outcome, and it obviously is better to save everybody if possible, but, as I said before, its a system of net risks and consequences which you use to evaluate the probability that 'x' will occur if the situation is 'y', and from there, decide what is most likely to help everybody the most. If one is operating under the system of keeping one's 'pure character', he or she would be committing an act of negligence which basically amounts to the sentiment of "I'm to good for this, so its no my problem, tough s**t, guys" instead of facing the chance that, if he or she took the wrong action, he or she will have to live with the consequences of his or her actions, but that can be justified if he or she took the action that was most probable to minimize damage given the knowledge available.

 

If my argument doesn't adequately explain why this action is superior to the alternative and hence why games should not penalize the player for them, please enlighten me.

 

I personally liked how it all worked in KotOR 2. Whatever actions you took or justifications you had for taking them, the player needs to own up to them and stand firm when he or she knows that it was the best course of action, and how it works in your favor not to unwaveringly stick to light or dark sides for simple sake of allegiances. The best example of this would have been the Jedi who went to fight the Mandalorians in order to save the Republic, despite the fact that the council told them not to. This was a great example of making a hard choice: once it had become evident of the council was acting on arrogance and traditions rather than the guardians they are assigned to be, that their word is not to be taken as absolute law, even if they are wise in most other instances. It's all about context.

 

I think that PE could also effectively employ instances that get to the player directly by means of either accepting an item of value or some other asset or prevent something bad from happening which, in turn, would grant you reputation. I like assets that help in plot progression rather than combat, because you can always reload your game if you die... unless you're playing Dark Souls, in which case, you're f***ed no matter what.

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Realistically I think dilemmas are a crutch for not-so-great writing. They almost always feel forced.

 

That's a pretty ridiculous blanket statement, especially when it comes to video game writing.

 

Games themselves could be easily seen as a series of dilemmas and problems for a player to figure out.

 

Okay, give me some examples.

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I like dilemmas. I hate forced dilemmas.

 

I think the distinction comes from approach. If you you start off with a simple concept then say "I want this to be difficult" you're working against yourself. Like a bank robbery. This can be pretty simple. The robbers are bad guys. If you try and force a twist into it where the robbers are good guys, the bank is evil, you might not end up doing something good. Maybe you will, but your starting place worked against you.

 

A good dilemma starts with the understanding that everyone has their own stance that is right for them. A conflict over limited resources that can't please everyone. But each group doesn't want their people to be without. And this leads to conflict. Even the bank robbers have something like this, they each have families to feed and they don't care about the bank.

 

It all depends on where you start. Do you understand that the situation is naturally complex? Or are you looking to complicate it?

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"Show me a man who "plays fair" and I'll show you a very talented cheater."
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Realistically I think dilemmas are a crutch for not-so-great writing. They almost always feel forced.

 

That's a pretty ridiculous blanket statement, especially when it comes to video game writing.

 

Games themselves could be easily seen as a series of dilemmas and problems for a player to figure out.

 

Okay, give me some examples.

 

Examples of what? Problem and dilemma solving in video games?

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Realistically I think dilemmas are a crutch for not-so-great writing. They almost always feel forced.

 

That's a pretty ridiculous blanket statement, especially when it comes to video game writing.

 

Games themselves could be easily seen as a series of dilemmas and problems for a player to figure out.

 

Okay, give me some examples.

 

Examples of what? Problem and dilemma solving in video games?

 

Yes, done well. Basically something where the player has to make a choice between two options that sound like they would have outcomes undesirable for the player, but where the decision feels realistic and not like you're just arbitrarily told to make a choice between dying by fire or drowning, if you see what I mean.

 

I wouldn't count situations where the choice is between options which are obviously evil but benefit the player, and ones which are obviously good but don't, because I think a dilemma has to have more to it than 'this is good for me, but that is good for you'. I realise we may disagree on that point.

 

An example of a bad dilemma which felt stupid and forced:

 

Fairly near the beginning of The Witcher there's a point where you have two options. One is to allow a group of terrorists (that you may well sympathise with to an extent, but are very clearly terrorists) to smuggle weapons into the city, and the other is to turn against them - possibly even to butcher them; I don't recall for certain. The choice felt forced and unnatural because both options were clearly stupid and there was no middle ground. In my experience this is how 'dilemmas' in games tend to work out, but in reality there's almost always middle ground.

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Good example of a ends-justify-means scenario.

 

The Circels in Dragon Age.

Morall it is repugnant to lock up people that haven't really done anything. Yet confining mages to Circles is necessary, given the whole blood magic and demonic possesion thing.

* YOU ARE A WRONGULARITY FROM WHICH NO RIGHT CAN ESCAPE! *

Chuck Norris was wrong once - He thought HE made a mistake!

 

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Good example of a ends-justify-means scenario.

 

The Circels in Dragon Age.

Morall it is repugnant to lock up people that haven't really done anything. Yet confining mages to Circles is necessary, given the whole blood magic and demonic possesion thing.

 

Careful. If a BSNer smells templar validation, we will soon be swimming in zealous denial and self-righteous appeals to human rights.

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An example of a bad dilemma which felt stupid and forced:

 

Fairly near the beginning of The Witcher there's a point where you have two options. One is to allow a group of terrorists (that you may well sympathise with to an extent, but are very clearly terrorists) to smuggle weapons into the city, and the other is to turn against them - possibly even to butcher them; I don't recall for certain. The choice felt forced and unnatural because both options were clearly stupid and there was no middle ground. In my experience this is how 'dilemmas' in games tend to work out, but in reality there's almost always middle ground.

 

I'm trying to understand your point, so please bare with me. Assume that you, as a Witcher, came across this group of terroists. How would you handle the situation/ how should this situation have been presented to you? Or is your issue with the situation itself? If so, what was wrong about the way it was handled?

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I don't think sacrificing_a_virgin_to_tame_a_dragon-style dilemmas are a good example of a morally ambiguous decision. Those kind of choices always feel forced and unnatural, also smell Mass Effect 3 from a mile.

Moral relativity should naturally arise from what characters and their goals are, not to be shoved down our throats artificially by some weird magic that works in mysterious ways.

Personally I'm pretty confident about that matter in Project Eternity because we are talking about Obsidian here. They know how to do it. My personal most favourite, memorable, touching and powerful morally relative decision in any PRG ever was made in Fallout: New Vegas, so here we go.

If someone is curios, what choice I'm talking about here:

 

It's when I was working on Mr. House being his loyal right hand and he asked me to destroy The Brotherhood of Steel hideout. And I was also familiar with BoS people and had no desire to kill them. I've tried to talk Mr. House out of this plan, but this was all in vain. In the end I decided I simply can't kill BoS guys, so I had to stop House instead. It was not forced, it naturally arose from what the characters were and it was my decision and my alone. And I felt like ****, like a complete low bastard and a dishonorable betrayer while I was crushing Mr. House's dreams and vision of the future; reading his epitaph right after the fact was generously painful to me (anyway, until that silly part from the editor in the end of the note that was). But that happened to be my morally ambiguous choice that worked and I had to stand by it.

 

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An example of a bad dilemma which felt stupid and forced:

 

Fairly near the beginning of The Witcher there's a point where you have two options. One is to allow a group of terrorists (that you may well sympathise with to an extent, but are very clearly terrorists) to smuggle weapons into the city, and the other is to turn against them - possibly even to butcher them; I don't recall for certain. The choice felt forced and unnatural because both options were clearly stupid and there was no middle ground. In my experience this is how 'dilemmas' in games tend to work out, but in reality there's almost always middle ground.

 

I'm trying to understand your point, so please bare with me. Assume that you, as a Witcher, came across this group of terroists. How would you handle the situation/ how should this situation have been presented to you? Or is your issue with the situation itself? If so, what was wrong about the way it was handled?

 

Well this one's actually fairly simple in that I don't actually want to hand them over to the corrupt guards who are likely to torture and abuse them, but there's no way in hell that I want to help them get a load of weapons into a populous area.

 

I'd like some possibility to make an attempt at persuasion, or inspect exactly what they're trying to smuggle in and make a more informed decision, or even to threaten them if absolutely necessary, or basically anything that would fall between the for <--> against gulf. At the time my personal response was 'your cause has some merit, but you guys are bastards; find a better way to sort this out that isn't just endless pointless escalation'. Just because two groups of people hate each other doesn't automatically mean that I should have to pick one to side with and one to screw over.

 

It's very uncommon that there really is a choice of two extremes like this in reality, and stands out to me as something that's obviously a game mechanic designed to increase the level of drama. Not always, but often enough to be a real pattern.

 

(I'm happier if the choice is more of a 'do something' versus 'do nothing' rather than two arbitrary somethings.)

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This concept of morality confuses and infuriates me, I just want a the choice to decapitate everyone and no more dilemma.

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I'd say the answer to that question is kind of like the answer to "who's the sucker in this poker game?"*

 

*If you can't tell, it's you. ;)

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Overall, that is the sort of moral 'dilemma' I support.

 

I disagree strongly. I hate when games provide you with moral dilemmas in which both possible options are clearly stupid. For this example, where's the 'rescue him then turn them all in to the proper authorities' option?

 

Realistically I think dilemmas are a crutch for not-so-great writing. They almost always feel forced.

 

I think we're in violent agreement.

 

My example was of a scenario where you were not necessarily aware that the person being tortured was a murdering bandit.

 

I too, hate when there are 'moral dilemmas' where the options are all clearly dumb. The worst example of this in a recent game I played would be the first Knights of the Old Republic. While a fun game overall, your options were primarily limited between being a goody two shoes and a malevolent and dumb ****.

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Well this one's actually fairly simple in that I don't actually want to hand them over to the corrupt guards who are likely to torture and abuse them, but there's no way in hell that I want to help them get a load of weapons into a populous area.

 

I'd like some possibility to make an attempt at persuasion, or inspect exactly what they're trying to smuggle in and make a more informed decision, or even to threaten them if absolutely necessary, or basically anything that would fall between the for <--> against gulf. At the time my personal response was 'your cause has some merit, but you guys are bastards; find a better way to sort this out that isn't just endless pointless escalation'. Just because two groups of people hate each other doesn't automatically mean that I should have to pick one to side with and one to screw over.

 

It's very uncommon that there really is a choice of two extremes like this in reality, and stands out to me as something that's obviously a game mechanic designed to increase the level of drama. Not always, but often enough to be a real pattern.

 

(I'm happier if the choice is more of a 'do something' versus 'do nothing' rather than two arbitrary somethings.)

 

 

Also, simply walking away should be a valid option. (unless of course the squirrels insist on killing you)

I don't want to turn them in, I don't want to help them, nor do I want to fight them.

* YOU ARE A WRONGULARITY FROM WHICH NO RIGHT CAN ESCAPE! *

Chuck Norris was wrong once - He thought HE made a mistake!

 

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Usually you have that option of "not taking sides" in the Witcher. In sidequests this is easy: you just do not make the quest, you don't solve any problem, so you do not get any reward. Programmers do not have to program something for that, right? (Well the question is, if anybody would really not take sides in such situations though)

 

About the quest, do you mean this one? http://witcher.wikia...rs_in_the_Night

In such a situation the walking away is also taking sides. Your choice in the game is: let them take the stuff (so walking away is already a decision!) or not let them take the stuff and then they attack you. I think this is a realistic situation and to me it didn't feel forced.

 

In main quests usually you have the option to "walk away and pretend you don't care" until a certain point where you have to take sides. I think if you don't want to take sides in the most important conflict of your world, then maybe you should retire to your base and make a farm with your NPCs where you have cows and make your own bread. :)

I agree that some games have bad writing in quests and options you would chose are not there. I think the witcher is not one of them. I also don't mind if a game forces me to make a decision though, because I understand that it cannot include more than 2-3 ways to make something or the game would be a lot shorter. Even if it is a dilemma and every choice hurts.

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here's a dilema from divinity 2. the evil lord and his lakey both got the same punishment and you can give peace to one of them. who is more deserving of the punishment? the cruel lord that terrorized the region he was supposed to protect, or the lakey who didnt like what the lord did, but even if he had the means, he chose not to stop him and kept helping him torture inocents for the fun of it?

The words freedom and liberty, are diminishing the true meaning of the abstract concept they try to explain. The true nature of freedom is such, that the human mind is unable to comprehend it, so we make a cage and name it freedom in order to give a tangible meaning to what we dont understand, just as our ancestors made gods like Thor or Zeus to explain thunder.

 

-Teknoman2-

What? You thought it was a quote from some well known wise guy from the past?

 

Stupidity leads to willful ignorance - willful ignorance leads to hope - hope leads to sex - and that is how a new generation of fools is born!


We are hardcore role players... When we go to bed with a girl, we roll a D20 to see if we hit the target and a D6 to see how much penetration damage we did.

 

Modern democracy is: the sheep voting for which dog will be the shepherd's right hand.

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I'm with the others that hate forced dilemmas. Virmire is in my mind an example of that: oh let's contrive a situation where you have to choose which companion to save! Pretty much boiled down to "Do you want to bang one of them?" as to which you saved.

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"That rabbit's dynamite!" - King Arthur, Monty Python and the Quest for the Holy Grail

"Space is big, really big." - Douglas Adams

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I'm with the others that hate forced dilemmas. Virmire is in my mind an example of that: oh let's contrive a situation where you have to choose which companion to save! Pretty much boiled down to "Do you want to bang one of them?" as to which you saved.

Actually for me it was like choosing from two different brands of vanilla ice cream, I went with whomever I thought was less boring.

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I'd say the answer to that question is kind of like the answer to "who's the sucker in this poker game?"*

 

*If you can't tell, it's you. ;)

village_idiot.gif

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I'm with the others that hate forced dilemmas. Virmire is in my mind an example of that: oh let's contrive a situation where you have to choose which companion to save! Pretty much boiled down to "Do you want to bang one of them?" as to which you saved.

 

Virmire makes more sense then the suicide mission, evne if it is contrived.

 

With the suicide mission you have the sutpidity of your companions getting a bullet becasue you didn't do a pep talk with them.

 

 

With Virmire the situation feels fake, because Ashley and Kaidan were 200 meters away from eachoter for one - and for another, the Normandy was right above the bomb size 5 minutes ago with a a compliment of marines. Where the hell did it go?

But those naggin problems can be fixed by better design.

 

 

I honestly prefer a properly crafted Virmire to the sucide mission a thousand times.

* YOU ARE A WRONGULARITY FROM WHICH NO RIGHT CAN ESCAPE! *

Chuck Norris was wrong once - He thought HE made a mistake!

 

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