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Any story about people interacting with each other is going to have to deal with morality on some level. There will be consequences for actions. One choice will profit you more than another. Or maybe not. Either way the game is saying something about how a person should live. Even if what it says is: it doesn't matter what you do.

 

That said, how would you like to see PE deal with it?

 

Should good characters profit by their acts? How?

 

Should the benefits for evil be different? How so?

 

Or should good and evil characters play largely the same except for how NPCs react?

 

Or do you object to being called good or evil in the first place?

 

I know what I'd like to see. But I'm curious to hear the community's ideas.

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I like quoting things. I'm going to side with Avellone.

http://obsoletegamer.com/we-interview-chris-avellone-from-obsidian-entertainment-part-1/

Will we see realistic moral choices that are beyond the usual “good, bad, and neutral” choices?

 

Yes. While we don’t have a morality bar, we do want the player to feel like they’re making meaningful decisions, and rather than good/neutral/bad range, we’ll allow for simply a range of “options” that reflect decisions you want to make that aren’t colored by morality.

 

And I think that should extend to consequences. The consequences of an act should be based on what is either likely to happen or to feed the drama, not to push a particular concept of morality.

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

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Should good characters profit by their acts? How?

Yes. Maybe less monetary or physical compensation, more in the way of favor or support from people, especially commoners and such. For example a group of militia may come to your aid in an important battle, or a farmer may offer you free stay at his home, or a priest offers to treat your wounds and bless the party.

Should the benefits for evil be different? How so?

Yea, definitely different. More greedy type compensation, whether that's money or items of power. Also, if you gain favor with people it may be a crooked nobleman or a nefarious character such as a necromancer. Then in an important battle the necromancer tells you to lure the enemy onto a burial ground where he raises the dead to aid you. Maybe the crooked nobleman could use his influence to gain you access to certain parts of a palace that are off limits.

Or should good and evil characters play largely the same except for how NPCs react?

Definitely not.

Or do you object to being called good or evil in the first place?

It's not as simple as that. What one faction may see as good another may see as evil. There are acts that follow the laws, but are immoral in spirit. There are acts that break laws but are moral in spirit.

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If you want to see the absolute worst way to do it, look at Bioware's track record, starting with Baldur's Gate.

 

What is involved in an evil playthrough of most Bioware games?

 

- Extremely petty evil. Mugging peasants for insignificant amounts of gold and being really rude have been hallmarks of Bioware 'evil.'

 

- Fewer rewards. The idea of evil is usually supposed to be that you compromise your morality for the sake of material gain, at least in the short-term. But if you're evil in most Bioware games, more often the rewards for doing the 'good' thing are far better, the rewards for doing the 'evil' thing singularly unimpressive.

 

- Active punishment. This was the case in BG and BG2, anyway; get too evil and you get to face constantly respawning guards who, even if you beat them, end up turning everyone else on the map hostile and thereby sabotaging the game. And the friggin' shopkeepers would charge you more, much more! I don't know about you, but if I were a shopkeeper and a man with a reputation for mass slaughter of innocent people steps into my shop, I would probably not mark up the prices in front of him.

 

- Your villainy is almost unacknowledged by NPCs for much of the game. I rolled my eyes on my dark side playthrough of KOTOR when my party was shocked....shocked!...that I turned to the dark side near the end after an entire game spent murdering, torturing and betraying everyone I could conceivably murder, torture and betray.

 

Basically, card-carrying Snidley Whiplash-style villainy that ostracizes everyone and never pays is stupid. There should be Stupid Evil options available, I suppose, but mostly I would like to see the chance to play a character who is a manipulative, cold-blooded a**hole and knows when to turn on the charm or when doing something 'good' will advance his selfish goals better in the long term than clubbing a baby to death. I want my 'good' characters to be challenged to do the right thing when it will cost them some really nice reward, or when it may actively anger allies and friends. And if I spend the entire game acting like Anton Chigurh with superpowers, killing people with scarcely any real reason for doing so, I want NPCs I meet in the future to be scared sh*tless of me and act appropriately.

Edited by Death Machine Miyagi
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An example of the kind of 'evil' I like in RPGs: Torment's Practical Incarnation. Look inside and he's a monster through and through, but he's a shrewd and manipulative monster who knows how to get what he wants by pretending to be something he isn't. He knows when to be cruel and when to pretend to be kind. He knows when to kill and when to stay his hand because sparing someone will prove more advantageous to him. He plays the long game, and despite all of his horrific acts, if he had not done what he did the game would be unwinnable.

 

If we could have a PC who could act like that? Who we could play 'long-game evil' instead of 'eating babies evil'?

 

Awesomeness.

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@OP

Players should benefit it they make the more beneficial choice and we shouldn't group choices into bad and evil ones. Sometimes doing what is morally correct should be more beneficial sometimes breaking the rules should give better results. When player encounters a choice he should consider what would be the best choice considering pros and cons not which choice fits his character.

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An example of the kind of 'evil' I like in RPGs: Torment's Practical Incarnation. Look inside and he's a monster through and through, but he's a shrewd and manipulative monster who knows how to get what he wants by pretending to be something he isn't. He knows when to be cruel and when to pretend to be kind. He knows when to kill and when to stay his hand because sparing someone will prove more advantageous to him. He plays the long game, and despite all of his horrific acts, if he had not done what he did the game would be unwinnable.

 

If we could have a PC who could act like that? Who we could play 'long-game evil' instead of 'eating babies evil'?

 

Awesomeness.

Very well put.

 

Evil shows up in many different forms, from the crazed psychopath randomly killing people, to the clever and greedy politician manipulating people, taking kickbacks, telling people what they want to hear, and manipulating the laws for his own gain at people's expense, unbeknownst to them, to the misguided visionary who decided some sacrifices had to be made along the way to serve a greater good and along the way got caught up in the quest for power and lost the vision of his original, and ultimately good, goal. Being able to wear the guise of righteousness and manipulate people (groups of people are notoriously easy to manipulate), bend the laws to your will, pretend to care, and pull off the long con can be just as evil as burning down a farm house with the family trapped inside.

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Basically, card-carrying Snidley Whiplash-style villainy that ostracizes everyone and never pays is stupid. There should be Stupid Evil options available, I suppose, but mostly I would like to see the chance to play a character who is a manipulative, cold-blooded a**hole and knows when to turn on the charm or when doing something 'good' will advance his selfish goals better in the long term than clubbing a baby to death. I want my 'good' characters to be challenged to do the right thing when it will cost them some really nice reward, or when it may actively anger allies and friends. And if I spend the entire game acting like Anton Chigurh with superpowers, killing people with scarcely any real reason for doing so, I want NPCs I meet in the future to be scared sh*tless of me and act appropriately.

 

Yes. This is nicely summarized. It seems like the key to getting a realistic moral feel is to have other characters react appropriately. I don't think I've ever seen this done in an exceptional way. A well known psychopath should absolutely shush any room he walks into.

 

It would also be nice to have moral choices work internally on the player character. As I see it, the attraction of evil in the real world is short-term gain followed by a long-term cost... with interest. Sometimes that's a physical cost. But it always damages your soul, something we may have a great parallel for with PE's use of "tangible" souls.

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What Death Machine Miyagi said: I'd like to see a situation where evil characters are more well liked by society than good characters. Playing the stereotypical stupid and petty evil character who goes around being a douche/stealing/murdering doesn't make any sense as in time most people would lynch that character on sight. I'd like to see some smart evil options where the evil character decieves a settlement making it appear that their problem is solved (thus getting more liked) when in reality they have screwed them in a way they don't yet realise. Making evocative evil quest options is a great deal more difficult than making compelling good options, and so more time needs to be devoted to those.

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I think that the good vs. evil dichotomy is way too simple and restrictive for a game like this. I know that ”grey choices” gets thrown around as a buzzword a lot, but what if your option is between ruling your kingdom with and iron-fist, and having an army of highly-disciplined soldiers at the ready when the Ancient Evil arrives, or ruling as a fair and just king, but having to rely on untrained but free militiamen.

What if you have to set an example and execute a deserter, or run the risk of others deserting and leaving you weakened in your fight against the murdering and pillaging invaders.

 

Morality should not just be between good and evil, or selflessness vs. selfishness, but also about things like idealism and pragmatism. You should be able to play a well-meaning but pragmatic character, who will kill and deceive, but for ultimately noble goals, just like you should be able to play a character with a strong moral code that might get in the way of solving real problems

 

It’s also kind of boring to play evil characters whose only motivation is to get money or power. What about idealistic people who want to shape the world into their liking. They might not care that they die in the process, so long as their vision is competed. They are not selfish in the sense that they want power for themselves, but they are still evil because their version of utopia is a horrible place.

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I think that the good vs. evil dichotomy is way too simple and restrictive for a game like this. I know that ”grey choices” gets thrown around as a buzzword a lot, but what if your option is between ruling your kingdom with and iron-fist, and having an army of highly-disciplined soldiers at the ready when the Ancient Evil arrives, or ruling as a fair and just king, but having to rely on untrained but free militiamen.

What if you have to set an example and execute a deserter, or run the risk of others deserting and leaving you weakened in your fight against the murdering and pillaging invaders.

 

I don't get you, you say you dislike restrictive roles and go on to present an example of a restrictive situation. Where does it say that to have a well trained army you need to be a despot? The US army is pretty much at the top and AFIK we don't torture them or shoot them in the head for deserting.


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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Death machine Miyagi is right on the money. :thumbsup:

 

Every now and then I'd make an evil character in a BioWare game (NWN1 series) and the experience taught me not to bother unless I was specifically creating a blackguard or an assassin. An evil alignment just wasn't worth the bother as the choices offered inevitably pushed me into a neutral alignment unless I held my nose and selected the thuggish choice. I usually couldn't stomach the insipidly stupid choices that were constantly forced upon any PC trying to retain a fiendish outlook on life, so I'd well nigh inevitably drift towards "upwards" on the Great Wheel and long for the old days of pen & paper gaming.

 

If evil options are available, let's make sure that at least half of them are of the cunning variety, please.

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Go afield with a good attitude, with respect for the wildlife you hunt and for the forests and fields in which you walk. Immerse yourself in the outdoors experience. It will cleanse your soul and make you a better person.----Fred Bear

 

http://michigansaf.org/

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What about idealistic people who want to shape the world into their liking. They might not care that they die in the process, so long as their vision is competed. They are not selfish in the sense that they want power for themselves, but they are still evil because their version of utopia is a horrible place.

 

I like this idea of an evil ideologue. It's both more interesting and more believable. You can imagine a Cynical Ideologue who is going through the motions purely for money, sex, glory. Or better yet the Amoral Ideologue who has a long term, but awful plan. The game would have to specifically accommodate that though. In order to get Miyagi's "long-game evil" there would have to be long term evil goals.

 

I'm curious what folks think about Good characters though. They can be equally boring, usually because their choices are so blatantly obvious. And to be fair, often the good choice is obvious. But other times it really isn't. The world is full of moral dilemmas. I'd love to see a game that doesn't shy away from that. One where--no really--you actually are going to have to choose between father and the son. You really are going to have to sacrifice the one--your favorite one--to save the many. And there is no third option.

 

What do you think? Do you want hard reality in PE or should it be a more idealized version of the world where there's always a way?

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People usually tend to act in their own self interest. How that meshes or conflicts with other peoples' self interest is usually where you get judgments about "good" and "evil."

 

To whatever extent PE allows us to have varying faction relationships, will largely define how villainous or heroic our character(s) are perceived. Being "good" or "bad" from a player's perspective should really boil down to how you conceive of your character concepts and what their motivations are.

If on the other hand we're dealing with issues of true psychopathy, that kind of thing probably should be treated harshly by the game world -- like an insane paladin, wantonly killing infidels by the thousand for his vision of a "greater good." (I guess insane paladin is kind of redundant though?)

 

;)

Edited by nikolokolus

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What do you think? Do you want hard reality in PE or should it be a more idealized version of the world where there's always a way?
Both.

 

Choice in games serve approximately three purposes. I'm pulling this off the top of my head, so forgive me if I miss something.

1) Characterization

2) Agency

3) Challenges

I've organized this list in my personal order of importance. I think people will argue on the arrangement of the first two, I can accept that.

 

Of these three, only one is benefited by having a "right answer." Challenges. That's fun in its own way, for a first playthrough. Or subsequent playthroughs several years later after you've forgotten the challenge. Characterization doesn't care about the outcome, it doesn't care if the world is harsh or ideal, it only cares about the player having options. Agency only cares about the outcome and its about making sure the the player's options are validated.

 

One easy way to handle it is be silent on agency. You don't deal with whether or not its a harsh world or an ideal one because you let the player imagine that for himself. The thief is caught, he promises to give up crime, and the player is given the choice to lock him away or set him free after returning the goods. Will he become a benefit to society if freed? Will he turn right back to his old ways? With vigor at how easy it was to get away after being caught? Reluctantly because he finds himself in harsh circumstance again? Will other criminals see how he avoided justice and feel emboldened to their crime? The player doesn't necessarily need to know for all scenarios that arise. Instead, he can make his choice, and have that choice subtly reinforced by an NPC. Whatever he does, someone in the room says "Good job" and "He's a good kid underneath that/never trust a criminal/an example must be set." And we can all move on. That will probably work for more choices than people realize.

 

But not all choices. And this is where compromise comes in. Let us talk about the father and the son. The player needs to have his options, like I said I find that to be the most important function of choice. If the player wants to characterize their character as the one who tries to save father and son, they need that option to exist. I would let agency slide ever so slightly here, however. But I will not let it slide into kick-in-the-face territory. All choices should have effects and all choices should be validated... in some way. Even if it's not necessarily what the player is looking for. So we have our father and our son, one's life for the other. This player, he chooses to try to save both. He fails, yes. But instead of just failing, he gives them both an extra week together. They get to spend just a little more time happily. And they die without anguish. With the mother saying "thank you."

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

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The game should only respond to actions without any assumption of morality. I do not want the game to assume that a PC is evil because the PC in question performed an act that would be considered evil. The PC is the Player's Character after all, and only the player can understand how the PC thinks and why they do what they do.

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"Take your child murderin' god and shove his him up his own ass."-Volorun

 

"...the vote of a black redhead disabled homosexual transsexual Jew should probably be worth the same as at least a hundred white heterosexual Christians."-Rostere

 

"i can think of many women i would gladly sleep with, but not a single one that i would want as a girlfriend/wife... neither real nor fictional."-teknoman2

 

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The game should only respond to actions without any assumption of morality. I do not want the game to assume that a PC is evil because the PC in question performed an act that would be considered evil. The PC is the Player's Character after all, and only the player can understand how the PC thinks and why they do what they do.

If by game you mean npcs, then I disagree, people don't care about your motives they care about actions.

For example, some hermit found dead not short after visit of your party. While they can't prove anything they'll still change their behaviour, since they didn't know that he was a necromancer.

In other words reputation - yes, good-evil scale - no. Good actions may decrease reputation and vice versa.

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I think that the good vs. evil dichotomy is way too simple and restrictive for a game like this. I know that ”grey choices” gets thrown around as a buzzword a lot, but what if your option is between ruling your kingdom with and iron-fist, and having an army of highly-disciplined soldiers at the ready when the Ancient Evil arrives, or ruling as a fair and just king, but having to rely on untrained but free militiamen.

What if you have to set an example and execute a deserter, or run the risk of others deserting and leaving you weakened in your fight against the murdering and pillaging invaders.

 

I don't get you, you say you dislike restrictive roles and go on to present an example of a restrictive situation. Where does it say that to have a well trained army you need to be a despot? The US army is pretty much at the top and AFIK we don't torture them or shoot them in the head for deserting.

 

I try to present a situation that is neither good nor evil, but simply a problem that has to be solved. Why do you assume that it is evil to rule with an iron fist if it means that the country gets to defend itself better? I don't like putting things into boxes titled "good" and "evil". In the above example a good character might have to compromise his morality to do long-term good.

 

Also, i don't see how the US army has any relevance to my example whatsoever, being part of the well-established armed forces of a huge economy vs. a perhaps small and backwater kingdom with no armed forces and faced with annihilation in 6 months.

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Copy-and-paste of my reply to a similar thread:

 

 

I'm not sure that "grey morality" or "moral ambiguity" should be a general goal. What I want is numerous well-written options that account for realistic or interesting motivations, especially evil options other than "Me want, me take!" and "Me evil, me destroy!"

 

A critical example from from DA:O, a game that I like but with which I have several gripes (spoilers ahead):

 

The choice to destroy Zathrian and the Dalish elves is presented as "I want an army of werewolves, so kill the elves!" (iirc the phrase "my own personal army of werewolves" is actually used in the dialogue). I wanted to choose that option but say "The Lady of the Forest has turned this curse into a gift! Master this power and become so much more than you were as mere humans! Follow me and kill the only one who can take this power from you, kill Zathrian!"

 

Furthering the problem, Bioware seems to have felt the need to punish the player for actions they couldn't conceive as anything but base evil by depriving the player of an important store: the infinite supply of deathroot, elfroot, and toxin extract from Varathorn. Why exactly can't the Lady of the *Forest* provide me with these things just as well as the elves? This isn't a consequence of an action but instead a nonsensical punishment for being "bad".

 

There are also numerous instances where I conceived a simple, intuitive response to a given situation only to be limited to choosing among a few contrived options.

 

Well-written dialogue and lots of options, plz!

Edited by ddillon

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Or do you object to being called good or evil in the first place?

This ^. As I've said elsewhere, "evil" people don't think of themselves as evil. There's a rationale for everything, even if it's unrealistic or imagined. I want choices that cover the span of possibilities with rationalizations behind them. Let us, the players, decide which choices are good and which are bad based on our own personal viewpoint or chosen role.

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