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I think it's an interesting area, I agree with the OP to a certain extent, although I wouldn't like to see the game be completely uniform in rewarding morality this way. I've felt too often in games in the past that being "good" isn't a difficult or challenging course, it's felt like the main route the designers planned and has such a range of rewards (exp, money, items etc.) to remove any morality from the question.

 

Something that might be interesting would be if, perhaps as part of playing a member of some religious factions in the game, you were encouraged away from materialism, with perhaps less tangible rewards for giving away money etc. to the poor.

 

I think it'll be interesting to see what Obsidian come up with, I'm looking forward to how they address elements of morality in the game. I think it's good that there's no global sliding 'morality scale', as I think it gives them far more room to play with a more nebulous, nuanced morality.

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Both being good and being evil should have it's consequences and rewards, depending on the situation. Evil characters should get more selfish rewards, where good characters might make friends more easily.

 

I once fooled around with the toolset of the original Neverwinter Nights, and came up with this idea for a scene, where you're investigating an evil cult with your two companions (which would be the only two companions available at that time). There would come a point inside the dungeon crawl where the companion characters would end up as prisoners to the evil cult, and you'd have to rescue them. Upon finding them the player would discover that they've been prepared for an evil magical ritual that would drain their life force to satisfy some evil god or something like that. There is a magical black orb on a pedestal in the middle of the room, which begins to drain life force from both of your companions.

There are four choices available, do you:

a) rescue companion no.1, sacrificing companion no.2?

b) do the opposite and sacrifice companion no.1 instead?

c) attack the orb in an attempt to save both of your companions?

d) given that your character has learned of the ritual during the crawl or passes his spellcraft check, take control of the orb and steal the lives of both his companions, absorbing their essence for himself?

 

Choices a) and b) would be pretty straightforward, picking option c) would be the ideal for the good character, but it would result in the orb turning on the PC, draining life from the player instead his/her companions causing the player to permanently lose 2 points of constitution, however both of your friends get to live another day. Picking option d) would result in the player character gaining a permanent +2 to his constitution from the absorbed life essence, but both his friends are lost forever due to his choice.

 

This is a tricky situation, where every choice is a trade off. Sure a Paladin might happily save both his friends, but that -2 CON will make even the most good hearted characters think twice. Also, you'd have to be rather evil to even consider picking option d).

 

 

Not all situations would have to be as dramatic as the one I described above, but the basic idea should remain. Any action, be it good, evil or neutral should have it's price if the choice is to be meaningful.

Edited by Ninjamestari

The most important step you take in your life is the next one.

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For instance, lets say as a good character I see a puppy with a collar wandering lost. An evil character has no reason to care, (and if they're particularly psychotic, might kill it for giggles) but maybe a good character will want to find the puppies' owner. After a search, you find the owner, who 'surprise!' rewards you 20 gold for finding the puppy. It's not a quest, it's simply a tangible benefit of having been benevolent. You might call this a fairy tale, but I have seen this happen more than once in real life. Kindness is, or can be, a gift that keeps giving, and doesn't necessarily lead to less material rewards than evil, you simply acquire those rewards in a different manner.

 

Maybe in this hypothetical lost puppy scenario, there could be a range of options like:

 

A "saintly" character returns the puppy and refuses the 20 gold - this could either be looked upon by favourably by the owner, or viewed with suspicion.

 

A "good" character returns the puppy and is rewarded with 20 gold, and the gratitude of the owner / townspeople.

 

An "evil" character returns the puppy, but demands 40 gold, or 20 gold for half the puppy. This might result in the character having more of an immediate material reward, but make him/her unpopular with the owner/townspeople.

 

A psychotic character just kills the puppy. Bonus experience for the objective of vanquishing a difficult foe.

 

Obviously these are all heavily simplified examples. I'm not really sure if I think the two extremes of this range should be balanced with the middle ones, or if they should just be more challenging play options available for the dedicated.

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Two, I've never really been clear on why being evil is supposed to get you more material rewards than being good. For instance, lets say as a good character I see a puppy with a collar wandering lost. An evil character has no reason to care, (and if they're particularly psychotic, might kill it for giggles) but maybe a good character will want to find the puppies' owner. After a search, you find the owner, who 'surprise!' rewards you 20 gold for finding the puppy. It's not a quest, it's simply a tangible benefit of having been benevolent. You might call this a fairy tale, but I have seen this happen more than once in real life. Kindness is, or can be, a gift that keeps giving, and doesn't necessarily lead to less material rewards than evil, you simply acquire those rewards in a different manner. As another example, maybe you do a kindness for a shopkeep and he gives you a discount, whereas a thief that steals from that shop might cause it to go out of business and be unable to obtain the better items offered at the store later in the game. Demanding that treachery be rewarded materially while being kind get you a pat on the head and nothing else seems both simplistic and rather silly.

 

I would argue that the evil person would go rob a merchant instead or something along those lines and score perhaps 200 gold ;)

 

No I do not mean that there should not be any kind of reward for being good, but consider this: People are generally not evil or at least they do not believe they are.

The reason people (both real life and fiction if written well) does evil deeds is as a shortcut to get what they want. Few do evil deeds for fun.

 

The drug dealer sells drugs to make money, the thief robs people to make money, the traditional evil CEO that cares only about money strangely enough does it for the money. All could be said to be evil and there is plenty of additional examples if you try to look for them.

 

Odds are that the far majority of these does not have any predisposition towards evil. The reason they do evil deeds is to get ahead in life. call it laziness if you want.

 

 

Again that is not to say that there should not be any rewards for doing good deeds, your example is completely valid and I agree with it, let the player get a reward for returning the puppy. But the "evil" option should generally reflect at least at first glance a bigger reward to give all the non-psychotic evil people a reason to pick that option. It could even be smaller (say the butcher offers 10 gold for the puppy) but it should just be more direct and/or visible.

 

If there is no visible incentive to be "evil", to do evil deeds over the good ones we basically have to assume the people that are doing these are raving psychotic maniacs that do it for fun.

Naturally those people do exist, but having those as effectively the only option for evil players is just bad design.

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I think the most natural way to build the game would be to use include the one kind of choice for one quest and another type of choice for another quest.

In one scenario/quest the character has several choices both with pros and cons such as Ninjamestaris post nr 27 with the life-draining orb.

For another scenario/quest the character could have a choice where all choices has different advantages or penalties each representing different moral. Examples on these to scenarios could be:

  • To save a friend or stop an enemy from escaping (possible returning to do more damage than just killing your friend).
  • To use a one-use magic item to boost your own power or restore the health of a village (who in turn reward you with an old powerful magic item etc).

In any case i agree that you should have concrete choices with different consequences, where you don't feel one type of choices rewards/punishes you less in the long run (but i like the idea that moral choices APPEAR to have lesser rewards/consequences).

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Another way to punish/reward alignment is to allow/improve certain of the players abilities depending on the players moral choices. I'm talking about a system similar to the renegade/paragon system from Mass Effect or the Dark/Light side system from Knights of the Old Republic.

 

I think the advantage of this system is that you always have a incentive for (role)playing your "alignment".

But it has the same disadvantage. You ALWAYS have an incentive. Therefore the few times your evil character wants to make a good choice you will get punished for it in the sense that you miss out on points to boost those evil powers of yours.

 

Still this could be fixed be fixed by making the these light- and dark-side abilities available no matter how much you strafe to either side and making sure they're still useful even if you haven't "upgraded" them. This way you also won't have the problem of a character taking the middle way, since that way he will have to equally powerful abilities instead of one very powerful and one very weak ability.

Of course the theme doesn't have to be evil vs good. It could be lawful vs chaotic, a combination of all for or something entirely else.

 

Still, if the game designers choose to run with this option I think they should still make sure that the evil/good choices have a meaningful and equal appeal for each choice other than the boost in abilities.

Edited by TheFrozenRaven
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I think the idea of the OP is good. To sweeten the deal of doing the "right thing" in the game, make the ending different if you do the right thing at a cost to your character in the game. That way you can't really see the reward before the end comes, and when it does, you feel really good for being the good guy.

 

I agree that in most games its just obvious to be good, as you even get better rewards usually when you are, that makes it a no-brainer and doesn't actually give you a good choice.

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Any "price" for going good should not be contrived and not for every situation. If everytime you do something nice it costs an arm and a leg (maybe even literally) or they all just stab you in the back then it just become ridiculous a mean-spirited. If it's something like aiding a newbie adventurer save his village from the grips of a wanted bandit leader and you have the choice between keeping all, spliting, or giving him all the reward, you shouldn't immediately expect to find him in the next city spending it all on hookers and blow (or rather courtesans and ale). This shouldn't be a world of jerks, but that said not everyone is or should be a saint.

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In most games, Good = intelligent, cunning, smart, wise. Bad = Hamfisted, cruel, malicious, dumb, shortsighted.

 

I would actually like good to be ****ing stupid for once. In Norse Myth for instance, Thor is a "good guy". But he is usually as dense as rocks and he is more of a blunt instrument than a rapier. He charges headlong into battle and doesnt opt for diplomacy or cunning that could win valuable allies or great prizes. He just breaks stuff.

 

His anthetihis would be Loki who is usually considered "bad" (nevermind that he isnt and likely wasnt percieved that way). He does crappy and irresponsible things, usually to bring the other gods down a peg or two, or to make the story evolve. And his smartness and antagonistic ways brings the gods every single object weapon and animal that are associated with their offices. The spear of Odin, Thors hammer, a boar that you can carve the bacon from and it will grow back instantly, a pocket ship, a gold ring that drips 9 rings like it every night, etc etc etc. The sagas where Loki are a part stand out as the more entertaining ones.

 

So... its not impossible to write "good" as Dense. Its just that traditionally everyone wants to be a hero, save the maiden and have the game cater to our egos and overinflated sense of self. So we get the artifacts for doing good stuff... not for conning some peasant who found it on a field out of it, or not for releasing the seemingly friendly archdevil from his prison by mistake. Frightfully boring. In my pen and paper days I usually played LE (smart) or CG "dumb as rocks" and I actually found that more rewarding than the paladin esque, holier than thou, idiocy. (I hate pallies with a vengance and never played one, not even in crpgs).

"Politicians. Little tin gods on wheels". -Rudyard Kipling. A European Fallout timeline? Dont mind if I do!

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It would sound subjective and lazy like ****, like, I'm not really contributing anything, but: ultimately, author projects his own morality into his creation, and what matters is if his views are interesting or boring. Frankly, Obsidian's views on the matter seem a bit more complex than Myleunex's angeldevilonshoulder/cutedoggie/goodisthehardway, and that makes them interesting for me.

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The idea that good acvts must be punished severely and evil acts are rewarded all the time is really poor and lazy design.

 

Again - to repeat myself - in the real world people who do 'good' are usually well rewarded and those who do 'evil' acts are usually severely punished or chastised.

 

Look at someone OJ Simpson. He does greta in his football career is beloved by an entire nation. Afte3rwards, he does some or is accused of some really screwed up things and his life and reputation is pretty much ruined.

 

By some of the posts here, you'd think it have been the opposite. L0L

DWARVES IN PROJECT ETERNITY = VOLOURN HAS PLEDGED $250.

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I think the whole "reward" line of thinking is rather twisted. The game shouldn't reward the player for his choices; the choices should have consequences. Getting a 50 dollar good guy bonus for helping that old lady across the street every time is just ridiculous.

 

Life isn't about getting rewarded for being a good boy, it's about making choices, picking the compromise that feels most appealing. The idea is to have the player be responsible for his actions; sometimes the "obvious good choice" might bring forth a disaster. Sometimes the "obvious evil choice" might prevent one. Having some magical daddy figure give you +5 good points is just retarded.

The most important step you take in your life is the next one.

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I'm not a fan of a system that gives automatic arbitrary consequences to every decision you make but I agree that sometimes it would be good if good decision have negative consequences and vis versa.

 

Those could be due to cultural factor that differs slightly from yours, like a society where helping the weak is not something they encourage. Or it could be due to indirect effects, like saving the life of the person who will later be the king's assassin. It could also have personal negative effect like helping a faction more would result in loss of respect by a competing faction.

 

Want I hope I won't see if decision that have to be taken repeatedly but have dire repercussion every time. One thing I really didn't like for example was the soul eater mechanics of one of the NWN2 DLC. you eventually have to focus so much on this that you love sight of everything else and makes the game less enjoyable in my opinion.

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It's not a new idea, and I'm pretty sure it has been discussed here somewhere (a search saw me return empty-handed). I've seen many discussions about how could be defined a "mature game", and people usually agree about the fact that it's not about boobies. That boobies may even actually be a sign of immaturity. There's also the question of the topics used in the game, and the morality when it comes to choose and to live by its consequences. "Being bad/evil" in many RPGs for instance, is often playing an (uninteresting and not "mature") "psychopath".

 

I remember this question being brought by Peter Molyneux. Something about "being good is the hard path / you can be good and save the persecuted, it is an available option. But it will cost you an eyeball". I like the idea that being bad is not being a psychopath. It's being greedy, lazy, or a coward.

 

It works the best when it appeals to the player behind the PC. If you must permanently lose 1 point of strength to save someone (who won't even give you a kiss), will you do it? I like that because it's challenging you as a (role)player, not just your character (I think it's used in Divinity 2 to some - scanty - extend). Would it be punishing? Rewarding? Hey, it would be optional, you could choose to be a ****. Being a hero is not that easy, it would cost you. Actually, there is no real value to "being good" if it does not cost you something.

 

Is there?

 

I agree 100%. The whole idea of being good to me is sacrifice, while the whole idea of evil (or at least selfish) is to be self-serving. The middle area there is to be "good", but expect compensation. Being good anyway with no tangible reward is the display of heroism. Make selfish choices reward the player and it will actually be more difficult, even if just slightly more, to avoid the temptation of slipping into selfishness or evil.

Edited by Coincidence

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I agree with this idea for the most part. It encourages roleplaying. I hate the temptation to do whatever people say because I know I'll be rewarded somehow. I want to be forced to feel like I'm doing it out of the goodness of my own heart rather than for experience, loot or a bit of additional gameplay. I want the moral decisions to be difficult, I want to see and feel that being good will be difficult, that people will try to take advantage of me and swindle me if I'm too nice, that there are actual rewards to strutting around, intimidating people into doing what I want. I want to feel like I can get similar things out of being both nice and a jerk, but being nice will often (not always, but often) be the harder option.

 

Of course, if one does stick to what they believe is moral, there should be long-term advantages. Perhaps the good deeds they'll do will spread across the local area, that goodness will beget goodness in small and wonderful ways. Perhaps, by the endgame, I'll be seen as a moral pillar by those around me, will be loved and respected for my good deeds, and people will regard me highly. There'd, of course, still be the cynics and the swindlers; but it'd be better than everyone seeing me as an arrogant and amoral bully. There'd be pros and cons to both sides, but the pros to being evil would be more immediate, more clear, more tempting.

 

It would force the player to ask themselves that their character would do. Are they willing to give up a small portion of their soul (and therefore their magical prowess) for the life of a stranger? If there's an alternate solution (such as conning someone else into doing it) that reaps the same reward, it stops being so much of a question about weighing up the pros and cons in terms of the game aspect, and instead is an issue of weighing up the pros and cons in terms of roleplaying. Anything that forces a player to ask "what would my character do?" instead of "what gets me the most pluses?" is highly welcome, and making it so that being a goody-two-shoes isn't the default way of doing things is a good start.

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I prefer systems where being "good" has long-term benefits, whereas being "bad" hurts you in the long term. A little pain now (doing people's idiot fetch quests instead of smacking them around) saves a lot later (having to do the end fight with no help).

 

The mechanical benefits detriments ought to pretty much even out. I really detest systems where being a bad dude means you get more lootz, this is just a really simplistic view of what it means to be good vs. bad.

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If you appeal to "realism" about a video game feature, you are wrong. Go back and try again.

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"Is it better to be feared or loved?"

 

Taking into account that this game will be based around factions and your reputation towards them, one very good way of achieving "evil rewards you" is to make one faction only either "fear you" or "hate you." Hating you is the "good option" because it's the option taht you start with. When you enter the town, and you save the puppy, are you doing it for the money that you are pretty suer you get or the experience that you get? In my opinion if you are doing things in the real world with an expectation of a reward, you aren't a good person, you're just a money-grubber. You're just trying to find the easiest way to make money. That makes me hate you. And when you come into my town, I'm going to charge you more cash for goods.

 

But if you come into my town and start killing my children and eating the puppies. Then I'm going to start fearing you. Yeah, I'll give you the cheaper prices on the goodies (I might not show you rare items I have, unless you threaten me, but otherwise you get cheaper items.)

 

There really is no way to be loved in this town. They hate outsiders. You're an outsider.

 

The good option doesn't really reward you. The "evil one" does. Sort of.

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You have to sacrifice your player at the end of the game for the good ending. In P:E2 you have to start a new character sheet. That would be quite the sacrifice.

My blog is where I'm keeping a record of all of my suggestions and bug mentions.

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You have to sacrifice your player at the end of the game for the good ending. In P:E2 you have to start a new character sheet. That would be quite the sacrifice.

 

As long as your character is truly dead, and doesn't show up in the DLC alive and well with no explanation... I'm looking at you Dragon Age.

But yes, if you had to sacrifice your character at the end of P:E1, then it'd be great to have references to your dead character in the story for PE:2 so you as a player get that feeling of accomplishment and recognition for your sacrifice.

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You have to sacrifice your player at the end of the game for the good ending. In P:E2 you have to start a new character sheet. That would be quite the sacrifice.

 

As long as your character is truly dead, and doesn't show up in the DLC alive and well with no explanation... I'm looking at you Dragon Age.

But yes, if you had to sacrifice your character at the end of P:E1, then it'd be great to have references to your dead character in the story for PE:2 so you as a player get that feeling of accomplishment and recognition for your sacrifice.

 

Bleh . . . I'd almost forgotten that happened.

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

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I think good = sacrifice is an oversimplification, but I do like the idea of some good decisions being costly in game terms. What I want to see in this game is a world that reacts believably to your actions. Some times people who are too nice get taken advantage of, some times evil people get to be filthy rich and respected, because they can manipulate the system better than people with more scruples, sometimes those same evil people slip up and have to face the consequences, sometimes not. I don't want to know I'll get similarly rewarded regardless of what I do. I want to think about the consequences of my actions and then choose what is most important to me.

 

As long as the tangible rewards aren't so unbalanced as to make an altruistic character completely unplayable, I'm fine with different choices having different, and not necessary equal in any way, rewards. As long as my decisions have a noticeable effect on the world, I'm happy. The effect doesn't always have to be what I expected, as long as it is consistent within the gameworld. And when I say noticeable, I don't mean that the gameworld should shudder every time I save a kitten, often it is enough that the characters present notice.

 

Besides, the choices shouldn't be between good and evil, those are just naive simplifications that don't usually describe reality very well at all. I'd rather see choices between different ways of approaching or valuing situations without such naive labels. Like choices between whether to respect other people's culture or intervene when seeing something I don't like. And then making me deal with the consequences either way. Maybe I'd save someone from slavery just to see that that person had accepted his/her station and now has no home or tribe and hates me for it. Or me trying to be respectful to the degree that I end up implicitly accepting something heinous until it's too late to intervene. But for these kinds of things the world has to be well written enough that I have at least some chance to evaluate and anticipate the results of my actions, so the results won't feel contrived.

 

If the writing is good enough and the world responsive enough, I don't really care for balance in rewards, just consistency of cause and effect within the world.

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As a general trend I'd like to see evil characters benefit more in the short term but have the situation screwed when time has elapsed (you tell a goblin horde the location of a group of tree elves, they kill the elves and you get some of the spoils - later you find out you could have enlisted the help of those elves in a political coup if you'd got them on side) and vice versa for good characters (you help the tree elves out, who have nothing to offer you for now, but later then lend you aid). Also I'd like to see situations where taking the evil path increases the player's rep with a town through trickery (an example I've given before - a town wants rid of a monster that's eating it's townsfolk, you bargain with the monster to spread it's killing out across more towns and you make it look like you have slain the beast, the townsfolk reward you for your deception) than the good path (the only way to permanently get rid of the monster is through human sacrafice, you do this and permenantly solve the problem yet the townsfolk hate you). Some quests that fall into these two camps would be nice, but not every quest needs to try something clever so you could have a few where you perform a simple act of good and get rewarded for it or vice versa.

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