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@Obsidian: Please make playing evil worthwhile, fulfilling & not juvenile!


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[T]hey should think more about character traits in general to draw up a wider range of motivations and make them available when applicable.

 

This is a simple notion, but I think it's a really great way to approach (at least one iterative pass of) roleplaying design.

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Why the hell would you WANT a 'realistic' villain? It would be bloody awful.

Playing such a character wouldn't be appealing, but I think opposing such an antagonist is the meat and drink of countless RPGs. I've tried to play an evil character any number of times in NWN and in pen 'n' paper D&D, but it's a very infrequent ocurrance that I've been able to maintain the infernal ways and mores of my character. Mindless destruction (CE), virulent nihilism (NE), and ruthless domination (LE) remind me too much of some of the more disagreeable a-holes I've encountered in my life and emulating them during my gaming sessions isn't my definition of fun.

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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

 

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I think it would be better if Obsidian do it the MOTB way.

A good person can't suddenly choose the mindless evil option, vice versa. When faced with such choices, the psychopathic choice will not even appear to good PCs, they can only choose a slightly bad ones at most. Neutral PCs can choose both good and evil choices, but not too extreme. Evil PCs can choose the slightly good choices but also can choose the most despicable ones.

 

This will make the PC's morality more consistent. If you don't want to see mindless evil, then stick to neutral and good, or just don't choose the mindless evil choice if you are evil yourself.

Edited by exodiark
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There's different ways about it.

 

The classic RPG evil, a guy who seeks to release all the demons of hell and end the world in flames.

He'll do dark rites and sacrifice virgins. Because he was bullied in childhood and there's so much suffering in the world.

 

Greedy evil. Someone wo wants money and/or power and is willing to go to great lengths to gain these.

He'll steal and murder and lie and cheat and stab everybody in the back.

But doing evil is not the object, it's just means to an end. He might just stop doing evil if he got all the power and money there is.

 

Cruel evil. Someone who just enjoys seeing people get hurt, burning villages, killing the men and being very impolite to the ladies.

He might enjoy a life of luxyry and might even seek it, but just seeing people injured is it's own reward.

This one could easily be a lawful character who keeps his word, maybe a top henchman for the two above evils.

 

Uninhibited unrestrained violence evil, aka short nerves.

Likes money and doesn't mind seeing suffering at all, but those are beside the point. He could be a nobleman or a hero.

The main thing is, if he's insulted or slighted in the least, or if he thinks he is, he'll flip out, total uncontrollable rage where he'd smash 

the offenders head to the ground and stab him hundred times in the face with a dull spoon or whatever happens to be at hand.

 

Smartass evil. aka not really evil at all.

Someone who makes and impolite conversationist, makes inconsiderate points and is generally just gets in the nerves of everyone.

Maybe he's just an **** or maybe he has a twisted sense of humor. Probably doesn't really do much evil at all.

Or maybe does, if there's a chance to push some cow down the cliff and it'd be just too fun to see and hear to not do.

 

 

I'd be happy to see the last four as player choices, but wouldn't see the need to accommodate the first one.

Personally I probably wouldn't pick the evil choices, but I feel all the better about my "good" choices if I saw there's an option.

And it'd make me all the more noble if the "evil" choices, or some of them, actually had some benefit to them.

 

Except I might give smartass answers from time to time...

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I like Champions of Ruin D&D book approach. They tried so hard to struggle against constraining alignment system of D&D. here's some exceptions of their defining evil: Book of Vile Darkness, on the other hand encroached in sticking with alignment.

1. I am not evil.

The most common of villain types and most reasonable in plot terms.

2. Curse\Foreign influences

Char is affected by some magic and "changed" to act evil.

3. Seduction

Lured by promises of power, pleasure or glory into performing evil acts.

4. Driven to evil

Act evil to survive. Kill, harm, betray, sell people to save\help your family or something similar, Seeking retribution, vengerance, justice. One of the most popular themes.

5. Just plain mean

Meet Ramsay Bolton. Or Chirurgh from "No place for Old men"

6. Natural born evil

Tolkien Orcs and evil races from AD&D, demons and devils. Enjoying all the restrictions of alignment-based setting.

7. Madness

No comments. A bit boring.

8. Evil Choice

Very rare. So far I can remember only Chaos Space Marine from Warhammer40k.

9. Better to rule in hell, than serve in Heaven

Being nice=weakness. Survival of the fittest. Here goes distaste to serve someone and aligning with the opposite.

10. The end justify the means

A lot of examples here. Movies, games, books, everywhere. Kill millions to save billions? "Cabin in the Woods" movie adressed it very well.

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Why the hell would you WANT a 'realistic' villain? It would be bloody awful.

Playing such a character wouldn't be appealing, ........

 

Speak for yourself. I prefer playing "villains" instead of heroes. In fact my all time favorite characters was in Planescape:Torment. Both the antagonist(Practical Incarnation, he was perfect and i could sympathize with him totally), and the protagonist.

The "evil" path for the Nameless One in Torment was the best of every game i have played.

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I think the OP is basically asking for more ambiguous choices instead of obvious good evil choices. The Witcher 2 was good at that. I think the reason the games are pro good is typically because you are trying to save the world, and why would you save the world only to be a prick to people along the way? It's possible, but the story line should encourage and support that. I do think they could craft the game where the goal of the game is not so black and white, but I think if they did that it would really have to have strong themes of why I would choose one over the other and not fluffy endings. I'm actually working on a project myself that has currently 6 different endings and I wanted them to make sense from the perspective of the character. I don't think being evil is inherently effective unless you have a moral compass that shows you a true right or wrong path to take. The flip side of that is the good choice should really be good and not just the default thing to do. If you saw someone's house burning down and someone was in need of help I don't think it's specifically a good act to help them get out. To me that's common sense. Maybe a good choice would be to give them your cloak which might even be a magical one as you leave and offer a service of charity. Instead of rockem sockem kill everything because I'm a good guy killing bad guys types of game play. 

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Torment, of course, had a quest that was in no way dependent on you being a heroic, moral, good guy type. The same for New Vegas. I prefer stories of that type, where your motivations are more personally drawn than some grand universal imperative.

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Torment, of course, had a quest that was in no way dependent on you being a heroic, moral, good guy type. The same for New Vegas. I prefer stories of that type, where your motivations are more personally drawn than some grand universal imperative.

 

New Vegas avoided the pitfall of having a typical save-the-world storyline, but... what was the story of that game? I never understood (and didn't finish it). I was very interested in trying to find out what happened to me and what my role in that big power struggle would be, but once I got to New Vegas it was just... oh yeah this one guy wanted to kill you because you had some MacGuffin item, but never mind that. Here are the different sides you can support in the fight for New Vegas and Hoover Dam. Choose one side each, then win New Vegas and Hoover Dam for them. End of the game.

 

And while I'm sure there was a bit more to it, that's what it felt like to me, and it really didn't motivate me to keep playing. And that's the problem with storylines that are too broad.

 

The Witcher 2 had the same problem. I mean I love that game for so many reasons, but in the end... what was I fighting for? There wasn't anything that motivated me really, because they avoided all possible motivations. Why should I hunt down the Kingslayer? Why should I even consider helping either Iorveth or that king dude? By the time we stepped on the scene, the Kingslayer wasn't a threat anymore. The damage was already done, and the one remaining king was a horrible person that I actually killed myself in the end.

The ending had me sharing a drink and then shaking hands with the Kingslayer. I didn't get closer to Yennefer, didn't get closer to finding out about my past, couldn't stop the war between the kings... and Nilfgaard wins no matter what.

It's a good game but it's essentially about nothing, because that's what you get when you avoid being about anything (redundancy, yeah!).

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It's a good game but it's essentially about nothing, because that's what you get when you avoid being about anything (redundancy, yeah!).

 

Uh you were trying to clear your name, find out why the killings were happening at all, and save Triss.... just saying.

 

I killed the Kingslayer for making me go through all the trouble ;p.  That being said a lot of Witcher 2 relied on you knowing who Geralt was, maybe playing Witcher 1, and possibly having read a book or two.  Without all that it did fall a little flat.

Edited by Karkarov
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New Vegas avoided the pitfall of having a typical save-the-world storyline, but... what was the story of that game? I never understood (and didn't finish it). I was very interested in trying to find out what happened to me and what my role in that big power struggle would be, but once I got to New Vegas it was just... oh yeah this one guy wanted to kill you because you had some MacGuffin item, but never mind that. Here are the different sides you can support in the fight for New Vegas and Hoover Dam. Choose one side each, then win New Vegas and Hoover Dam for them. End of the game.

 

And while I'm sure there was a bit more to it, that's what it felt like to me, and it really didn't motivate me to keep playing. And that's the problem with storylines that are too broad.

I think New Vegas took the best approach you can for an open-world game: The setting is the story. The game doesn't really have a linear narrative in the sense of something you could turn into a book or a movie because that's not what the game is about: The player emotionally connects with the game through exploring the world, turning over every rock that looks interesting to see what's underneath.

 

You know those moments in Minecraft where you find a random entrance to a cave, so you jump in to see where it leads for no other reason than because it's there? That's what NV is about. If you're the kind of person who plays Minecraft passing over everything unless it's a resource you want, then NV is probably not the game for you.

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@Obsidian: Please make playing evil worthwhile, fulfilling & not juvenile!

 

 

Hi Obsidian,

 

As per the title of the thread, I would greatly appreciate it if playing evil (this is after all a deep roleplaying game) in this game will actually be worthwhile, fulfilling and not juvenile.

 

Let me elaborate:

Worthwhile: Most RPGs simply don't reward evil roleplaying; i.e. you always get the best rewards for playing the nice guy; i.e. what I am asking for here  is that you actually design the game and quests so that there is actually a good motivation in the game itself to play evil as opposed to merely my motivation as a player to play evil; i.e. that the game itself reacts "positively" to playing evil (just as it should react “positively” to playing good); don't confuse "positive" here with "good", they are in different categories.

 

Moving on:

Fulfilling and not Juvenile: Most RPGs treat roleplaying evil in a pathetic shallow fashion (even the Infinity Engine games are guilty of this) and give it only a fraction of the attention of the “good” path. Let me elaborate with an example. You meet an old lady with her cats in a hut (and she is known to love cats) and the "evil" option is usually something like this: slaughter (or torture) the cats in front of the woman and then laugh in her face. I simply ask for "deeper" roleplaying options that are not at the extremes of "save and hug everyone" to "slaughter everyone and urinate on their corpses". I know it is not easy to do and I won't give examples of “deep” roleplaying since that is your job as awesome game designers. I know this point is difficult to easily quantify (hence it can be construed in a very subjective manner), but I honestly feel that in terms of "depth of interaction/roleplaying", the "evil" side is far under-represented compared to the "good" side.

 

I know Obsidian have said that they are going to avoid these "alignment" aspects of D&D, but ultimately the designers are human and it is very easy for them to fall into the same old trap of moral extremes when designing quests, gameplay and story without even realizing it. I.e. don't fool yourselves into thinking that you can easily get away from moral duality just because the game has no clear cut alignment system; the moral duality is built into human nature and "seeps through" into how you design the story, quests, etc. Try and temper the moral duality with a bit more "depth" and complexity, as in the real world, for as I am sure you know: in the real world nice guys do not always finish first and the best things do not always come to the most good, righteous, etc. of beings.

 

That is all, thank you for your time Obsidian. Make PE something special; the series (and most likely any future crowd-funding endeavours of Obsidian regarding old school RPGs) will depend on how awesome PE will be; as they say: first impressions last.

 

-pl1982

 

In my experience this is simply and utterly untrue. A good many of the RPGs I've played consistently give "evil" characters better rewards, at least from a materialistic standpoint, which makes sense if you consider that "evil" (a term whose ambiguity and artificiality you seem to be forgetting) is generally construed as selfishness in a Judeo-Christian worldview. Now, it's true that Nietzsche and some others may have different opinions on the nature of evil, but this is by and large the most common notion of evil and the one that most RPGs seem to channel. "Good" characters on the other hand are rewarded in less materialistic ways, which again makes decent sense because choosing this path often requires neglecting one's pocketbook to the benefit of something outside one's character.

 

The options that most RPGs utilize seems to be that of a "senseless/gratuitous evil" option, a "self-serving/materialistic/pragmatic" option, and an "altruistic charity/self-sacrifice", and you seem to be complaining that the game doesn't take the former seriously enough. However, senseless evil is... well, senseless by definition, and you probably shouldn't play such a character expecting some deep insight into your character's motivations. If you want to play a character who has a defined set of motivations that might not always coincide with good choices, then what you should do is figure out precisely what those motivations are instead of shoehorning your way into the gratuitous evil alignment option, which mostly exists for the enjoyment of the "this is why we can't have nice things" kinds of people anyway.

 

So, in short, my experience is such that evil characters tend to see more rewards in the short term, or their rewards are more materialistic in nature, and I don't really see how this is unsatisfactory since it makes sense (unless you want to adapt some kind of fringe moral belief system). Choosing the good path on the other hand tends to lead to a more enjoyable endgame where the sun shines brighter in the world, and that kind of thing. Ultimately, I think the real issue here is that the labels good and evil tend to work the best as a shorthand method of evaluating the consequences of a character's actions, instead of encapsulating their various motivations. To construe "morals" and "motivations" as directly competing influences is a patent misrepresentation of human psychology; the latter is what actually plays a part in decision-making, and the former is how we appropriate and justify decisions in retrospect.

 

If you want "deeper evil" choices, then I'm afraid you're going to have to provide examples, as there's nothing that can make evil for its own sake any more complex, and "evil" for the sake of some other motivation is better construed in terms of what that motivation is. Most often it turns out to be money or material wealth, but I can imagine that there would be even more complaining if the game "punished" the player for a pursuit that people see as being central to the genre. The game should accommodate a range of possible motivations (and if this must include gratuitous evil to appease that wretched crowd then so be it), and the player should take the time to utilize this functionality instead of instantly pigeon-holing their character into the "good" or "evil" camp.

Edited by mcmanusaur
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mcmanusaur, I think there are three common complaints about RPGs and their way of handling morality:

1) Moral choices are as shallow as you describe them, i.e. "gratuitous evil", "materialistic neutral", "altruistic good".

2) Quests are often designed in a way that make the "altruistic good" option the preferred one, the one that flows from the narrative.

3) The altruistic characters usually get something anyway, so that their altruism does not hinder them in any way.

 

Each point is a problem on its own, and the first one especially is one that affects all alignments. Now, are these complaints valid? I can't say. I can say that I remember feeling exactly like that in various RPGs, while only a few have managed to avoid this problem (for isometric party-based RPGs, only Arcanum comes to mind).

 

Anyway, the important question isn't whether old RPGs had boring morality systems, but how to avoid such a boring morality for P:E. Talking about the "evil path" might be the wrong way to go about that, because the term is already assuming a black and white morality.

To reference my Three Common Complaints above, saying that you want a well-crafted evil path means that you want the devs to avoid Problem 2 and Problem 3 while embracing Problem 1.

 

In my opinion, Game of Thrones is very interesting in this regard. Just like The Witcher 2 it has many rivaling factions, but unlike that game the show always has me rooting for a certain faction to win over another one. There are the "good guys" and the "bad guys" and yet I know that the good guys actually aren't very good sometimes, and I know that once I see the story from the perspective of the bad guys, I'll understand their motivations.

The point is that I have a very clear image who the good guys are, while these characters themselves would disagree. And this is the situation we need in an RPG. The one where you go down the "evil path" without even noticing, because it all makes so much sense.

 

I think moral questions where you have to decide between selfishness and altruism are so last century. Let's have a world where everybody is selfish and then find moral dilemmas in that one. It's much more interesting.

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mcmanusaur, I think there are three common complaints about RPGs and their way of handling morality:

1) Moral choices are as shallow as you describe them, i.e. "gratuitous evil", "materialistic neutral", "altruistic good".

2) Quests are often designed in a way that make the "altruistic good" option the preferred one, the one that flows from the narrative.

3) The altruistic characters usually get something anyway, so that their altruism does not hinder them in any way.

 

Each point is a problem on its own, and the first one especially is one that affects all alignments. Now, are these complaints valid? I can't say. I can say that I remember feeling exactly like that in various RPGs, while only a few have managed to avoid this problem (for isometric party-based RPGs, only Arcanum comes to mind).

 

Anyway, the important question isn't whether old RPGs had boring morality systems, but how to avoid such a boring morality for P:E. Talking about the "evil path" might be the wrong way to go about that, because the term is already assuming a black and white morality.

To reference my Three Common Complaints above, saying that you want a well-crafted evil path means that you want the devs to avoid Problem 2 and Problem 3 while embracing Problem 1.

 

In my opinion, Game of Thrones is very interesting in this regard. Just like The Witcher 2 it has many rivaling factions, but unlike that game the show always has me rooting for a certain faction to win over another one. There are the "good guys" and the "bad guys" and yet I know that the good guys actually aren't very good sometimes, and I know that once I see the story from the perspective of the bad guys, I'll understand their motivations.

The point is that I have a very clear image who the good guys are, while these characters themselves would disagree. And this is the situation we need in an RPG. The one where you go down the "evil path" without even noticing, because it all makes so much sense.

 

I think moral questions where you have to decide between selfishness and altruism are so last century. Let's have a world where everybody is selfish and then find moral dilemmas in that one. It's much more interesting.

 

Right, I'll try to address those concerns again since I wasn't clear enough the first time around.

 

1. To call a choice "moral" is to convey an attitude toward it, usually in retrospect. It is true that these can be rather shallow and simplistic evaluations of choices, and this is because morality does not capture the motivations for an action in my opinion. Character motivations are what the game should directly facilitate, and if it wants to churn out a moral result after the fact then that's fine.

 

When it comes to the "evil" approach, my point is that evil for its own sake simply cannot be made that much deeper, and that "evil" is an inadequate descriptor for any other path. Put quite simply, if you choose only the word "evil" to decribe your character then you deserve to be lumped in with the "gratuitous evil" camp in my opinion. If the path you're looking for makes some kind of sense, then there's a better word for it than "evil".

 

2. Preferred in what way? What choice is preferred should always stem from the character's motivations, or at least the player's motivations. As far as the narrative goes, I suppose you mean the fact that since our characters are expected to be the hero in the case of the main plotline, the consistency would suffer unless they were altruistic? I'm not really sure about that, and I think some games have accommodated an anti-hero (though never to the point where I'd consider playing one), and I'd just as well have a good old sandbox game as soon as the developers put effort into allowing the player to be either the hero or villain of the main narrative.

 

3. And you would suggest that it shouldn't be this way? There should always be reward or at least feedback for the player's choices, and I suspect that the people complaining about how the good guys get all the cool stuff are neglecting to differentiate between material rewards and emotional rewards. In my experience, "evil" selfish characters tend to get more of the first, and altruistic "good" usually get more of the second, which makes sense given the fact that the former spend the whole time trying to loot everyone's house/get paid as handsomely as possible, and the latter continually turn down said pay.

 

Lastly, I would argue that altruism should only disadvantage people in a zero-sum world, and I hope that the interactions between systems in this game are complex enough that this is not the case.

 

--------

 

In regard to the Witcher and Game of Thrones series, that is what we call "Grey and Gray" or "Grey and Black" Morality, and in my opinion it can be a bit limiting. While I like a setting full of grey morality, I think that black and white options should always be open to the player at certain times. That is, we shouldn't always have to search for the "slightly less evil" choice, though I'm certainly fine with that kind of dilemma sometimes.

 

I personally don't feel that the selfishness/altruism issue is overdone, as it's responsible for many of the central questions we struggle with to this day, and this will likely never change. The most important thing to me is that we actually recognize things for what they are, instead of taking the morality meter as an excuse to ignore what is actually motivating our characters. I feel that both greed/selfishness and altruism are both realistic motivators, but they're not the only ones.

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Right, I'll try to address those concerns again since I wasn't clear enough the first time around.

 

No, I understood you just fine. But you said pl1982 wished for a more serious "gratuitous evil" approach (and that this didn't make any sense), which I wasn't sure about. As I said, the most common complaints are actually that being the "bad guy" means being gratuitously evil, doing something that doesn't really fit into the storyline and/or not being rewarded well enough.

 

And like I said, my opinion in this is that I just don't know. I can remember many situations in RPGs where I wanted to say something that seemed obvious to me, but wasn't available; where the only choices were "ridiculously monstrous", "materialistic as hell" and "holier than Jesus". And I know that I don't want to see choices like that in the game, but I don't know if most RPGs actually were constructed in such a way or if my memory is playing tricks on me.

What I said concerning this was, "does it matter?". I'm mainly trying to discuss what I want to see in Project Eternity. So my point about those three complaints was not whether they are valid for old games or not, but how these complaints can/should be adressed in order to create a better P:E.

 

My point about Game of Thrones wasn't Grey and Grey Morality, either. I actually emphasized the difference between The Witcher 2 and GoT by saying that the latter did not have a Grey and Grey Morality where all you do is choose the lesser of two evils (at least if you ask me, but I guess this is highly subjective). And anyway that wasn't my point, my point was that while knowing they're the bad guys, you can see where the bad guys in GoT are coming from. And that they wouldn't call themselves evil. That has nothing to do with Grey and Grey Morality.

 

Altruism is yet another point. I don't mind if there are choices where I can be altruistic from time to time. But moral choices shouldn't always be designed around altruism or selfishness. There are moral dilemmas that are so big that it doesn't matter whether you chose altruistic or not. (A little bit of utilitarianism never hurt a narrative.)

Edited by Fearabbit
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I think it's worth pointing out that acting evil--behaving selfishly, cruelly, violently, etc.--is inherently juvenile. It's unproductive and illogical, so it wouldn't make a whole lot of sense to see it represented in games any differently.

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Great managers and generals score high on the psychopath index. So, being evil, or at least having little or no empathy should be mandatory for winning a game where you command a group of adventurers and destroy all opposition.

 

For the character you play, of course. It's a Role-playing game, after all.

Edited by SymbolicFrank
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@Obsidian: Please make playing evil worthwhile, fulfilling & not juvenile!

 

 

Hi Obsidian,

 

As per the title of the thread, I would greatly appreciate it if playing evil (this is after all a deep roleplaying game) in this game will actually be worthwhile, fulfilling and not juvenile.

 

Let me elaborate:

Worthwhile: Most RPGs simply don't reward evil roleplaying; i.e. you always get the best rewards for playing the nice guy; i.e. what I am asking for here  is that you actually design the game and quests so that there is actually a good motivation in the game itself to play evil as opposed to merely my motivation as a player to play evil; i.e. that the game itself reacts "positively" to playing evil (just as it should react “positively” to playing good); don't confuse "positive" here with "good", they are in different categories.

 

Moving on:

Fulfilling and not Juvenile: Most RPGs treat roleplaying evil in a pathetic shallow fashion (even the Infinity Engine games are guilty of this) and give it only a fraction of the attention of the “good” path. Let me elaborate with an example. You meet an old lady with her cats in a hut (and she is known to love cats) and the "evil" option is usually something like this: slaughter (or torture) the cats in front of the woman and then laugh in her face. I simply ask for "deeper" roleplaying options that are not at the extremes of "save and hug everyone" to "slaughter everyone and urinate on their corpses". I know it is not easy to do and I won't give examples of “deep” roleplaying since that is your job as awesome game designers. I know this point is difficult to easily quantify (hence it can be construed in a very subjective manner), but I honestly feel that in terms of "depth of interaction/roleplaying", the "evil" side is far under-represented compared to the "good" side.

 

I know Obsidian have said that they are going to avoid these "alignment" aspects of D&D, but ultimately the designers are human and it is very easy for them to fall into the same old trap of moral extremes when designing quests, gameplay and story without even realizing it. I.e. don't fool yourselves into thinking that you can easily get away from moral duality just because the game has no clear cut alignment system; the moral duality is built into human nature and "seeps through" into how you design the story, quests, etc. Try and temper the moral duality with a bit more "depth" and complexity, as in the real world, for as I am sure you know: in the real world nice guys do not always finish first and the best things do not always come to the most good, righteous, etc. of beings.

 

That is all, thank you for your time Obsidian. Make PE something special; the series (and most likely any future crowd-funding endeavours of Obsidian regarding old school RPGs) will depend on how awesome PE will be; as they say: first impressions last.

 

-pl1982

As always, it's already been confirmed that P:E won't have a binary morality system/sliding scale, but will have faction reputations like NV.

"Playing evil" is juvenile by definition in this context, as it still boils morality down to the sort simplistic "black-evil vs white-good" dichotomy that makes the stories that utilize them bland and lacking in drama and depth. Just because you want "less extreme evil choices" doesn't make it not a request for a binary choice between "good" and "evil."

 

If you want moral depth, you shouldn't be asking to "play evil" to start. You should be asking to play "morally complex." People can commit "evil" acts for "good" reasons, just like people can commit "good" acts for "evil" reasons.

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I think it's worth pointing out that acting evil--behaving selfishly, cruelly, violently, etc.--is inherently juvenile. It's unproductive and illogical, so it wouldn't make a whole lot of sense to see it represented in games any differently.

Illogical? Unproductive? That was absurd remark. Have you ever seen what people are just willing to do for profit, seemingly good people? Have you taken look at what we as global society do to our homeworld. Call it juvenile, but illogical and unproductive, far from it...whatevr you do, you gain something from it, question is what?

 

From  your statment, I only can assume that you simplfy evil nature = juvenile is a "bully kid" type of person. Who goes around kicking other kids sand castles, breaking their toys, takes their lunch money, etc. You are simplifing evil nature in man and calling it evil-juvenile and as such it should be represented as only such. That is most often how it is being represented and has gotten boring.

 

No my friend, argument here is for more sophisticated evil. Even if you think evil is inherently juvenile, i wont argue that, but how it should be represented in the game? Whn one say juvenile, than certain mechanics of human behaviour pop in peoples mind. Usually most mundane things pop to our mind. So far, RP evil char has been like being an evil henchman, will do evrything for certain sum vs risk. Or just essential psycopath, supposedly addicted to feeling whn hurting someone/something and thats it, that is all depth to it.

 

Games has managed to present  more sphisticated villains, than we realise their schemes at the end. Their methodolgy is cruel, selfish and violent, yet under clever guise and rarly obvious. If we ingame are obvious evil, than in my mind we are doing something wrong, unless we RP tug character. It would be nice to have alternative. It is this kind of RP experience that would be good for a change.

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If you want moral depth, you shouldn't be asking to "play evil" to start. You should be asking to play "morally complex." People can commit "evil" acts for "good" reasons, just like people can commit "good" acts for "evil" reasons.

 

But that was the whole point of the OP - That they wanted the 'evil' options to be morally complex options, not juvenile ones.

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If you want moral depth, you shouldn't be asking to "play evil" to start. You should be asking to play "morally complex." People can commit "evil" acts for "good" reasons, just like people can commit "good" acts for "evil" reasons.

 

But that was the whole point of the OP - That they wanted the 'evil' options to be morally complex options, not juvenile ones.

 

 

But that is exactly the point of his and my rebuke of the OP: "Evil" is only useful as a descriptor for the juvenile and senseless evil for its own sake; it's completely contradictory to call anything else evil, when you should be calling it by what adds that "complexity".

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Right, I'll try to address those concerns again since I wasn't clear enough the first time around.

 

No, I understood you just fine. But you said pl1982 wished for a more serious "gratuitous evil" approach (and that this didn't make any sense), which I wasn't sure about. As I said, the most common complaints are actually that being the "bad guy" means being gratuitously evil, doing something that doesn't really fit into the storyline and/or not being rewarded well enough.

 

And like I said, my opinion in this is that I just don't know. I can remember many situations in RPGs where I wanted to say something that seemed obvious to me, but wasn't available; where the only choices were "ridiculously monstrous", "materialistic as hell" and "holier than Jesus". And I know that I don't want to see choices like that in the game, but I don't know if most RPGs actually were constructed in such a way or if my memory is playing tricks on me.

What I said concerning this was, "does it matter?". I'm mainly trying to discuss what I want to see in Project Eternity. So my point about those three complaints was not whether they are valid for old games or not, but how these complaints can/should be adressed in order to create a better P:E.

 

My point about Game of Thrones wasn't Grey and Grey Morality, either. I actually emphasized the difference between The Witcher 2 and GoT by saying that the latter did not have a Grey and Grey Morality where all you do is choose the lesser of two evils (at least if you ask me, but I guess this is highly subjective). And anyway that wasn't my point, my point was that while knowing they're the bad guys, you can see where the bad guys in GoT are coming from. And that they wouldn't call themselves evil. That has nothing to do with Grey and Grey Morality.

 

Altruism is yet another point. I don't mind if there are choices where I can be altruistic from time to time. But moral choices shouldn't always be designed around altruism or selfishness. There are moral dilemmas that are so big that it doesn't matter whether you chose altruistic or not. (A little bit of utilitarianism never hurt a narrative.)

 

I said that he wanted a more serious "evil" approach, and that anything other than evil for its own sake ceases to be labeled usefully as "evil". What I've come to realize over the course of this thread is that the moral spectrum is so ingrained in people's minds... I've tried to argue that to say that a character is morally good or evil before there have been consequences to their actions is an altogether meaningless statement. Rather than whine that evil isn't fulfilling enough, players should ask what exactly their characters aim to fulfill in their "evil" actions. If the player is just "trying to be the bad guy", they're doing something wrong and shouldn't expect better results than gratuitous evil.

 

Instead, how different motivations are accommodated in the game is what we should be discussing. Ostensibly, the desire for good or evil could be motivations in and of themselves (however this is clearly not what the OP seeks), but often there are also other motivations at play (money, power, revenge, etc.), even if these other motivations usually end up being classified as good or evil based on the results they bring about. However, that does not mean that it's useful to pigeonhole these other motivations as "more complex evil"; rather, simply let intrinsically moral motivations remain black and white but accommodate a number of grey paths of nonmoral (not to be confused with immoral) motivations.

 

In regards to evil "not fitting in with the storyline", I'll have to ask you to be a bit more specific. I am also curious for examples in which games do not reward evil "well enough"; do you think there should be more materialistic rewards, or should it be more "rewarding" in non-material aspects?

 

Something that seemed obvious to you why? Perhaps due to some nonmoral motivation that wasn't anticipated?

 

I'd also tend to believe that it's important to demonstrate the validity of complaints before they are addressed...

 

"Where the bad guys are coming from"... in other words, what motivates them, correct? And if these characters wouldn't call themselves evil, then really why should we go about lobbying for similar characters by labeling our target as "evil"?

 

As far as altruism/self-interest goes, I think it's notable for being a case in which a clear moral trend exists, and that is also commonplace in everyday experience (unlike the issue of killing for fun). When there actually isn't any clear moral contrast, in some ways it ceases to be an ethical question in that moral motivations aren't what decide the issue; rather, even though the question is about morality in such cases, the answer has more to do with one's abstract metaethical views than it demonstrates the moral character of the person in question. That doesn't mean these scenarios aren't fun, but I don't necessarily consider them true moral dilemmas as much as philosophical dilemmas, unless I'm misunderstanding what you mean.

 

It's pointless to talk about characters that don't exist in terms of the moral consequences of their as yet nonexistent actions; their morality is a function of their motivations, and not the other way around. Instead we should focus on which motivations our characters possess; these include both moral motivations (which are necessarily rather shallow and/or simplistic by nature) and nonmoral motivations. The latter variety can certainly have morally significant consequences in the long run, but not necessarily in a particular direction (for example, loyalty to one's family could conceivably lead to good or evil outcomes), and thus it's best to leave directly moralistic language such as "evil" to characters' explicitly moral motivations, and to handle any nonmoral motivations by name.

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I said that he wanted a more serious "evil" approach, and that anything other than evil for its own sake ceases to be labeled usefully as "evil". What I've come to realize over the course of this thread is that the moral spectrum is so ingrained in people's minds... I've tried to argue that to say that a character is morally good or evil before there have been consequences to their actions is an altogether meaningless statement. Rather than whine that evil isn't fulfilling enough, players should ask what exactly their characters aim to fulfill in their "evil" actions. If the player is just "trying to be the bad guy", they're doing something wrong and shouldn't expect better results than gratuitous evil.

 

Instead, how different motivations are accommodated in the game is what we should be discussing. Ostensibly, the desire for good or evil could be motivations in and of themselves (however this is clearly not what the OP seeks), but often there are also other motivations at play (money, power, revenge, etc.), even if these other motivations usually end up being classified as good or evil based on the results they bring about. However, that does not mean that it's useful to pigeonhole these other motivations as "more complex evil"; rather, simply let intrinsically moral motivations remain black and white but accommodate a number of grey paths of nonmoral (not to be confused with immoral) motivations.

 

Obviously for you it's a big problem that people use the word "evil" to describe what they mean. For me it's a bigger problem to keep having to debate the meaning of that word when we actually all know what each other's talking about. The OP contrasts normal RPG evil to a more complex evil, and we (at least, I) know that basically he just wants to play some guy doing things that many people would call evil, but he wants to have reasons for it. Not necessarily somebody who is defined as evil by some agreed-upon philosophical standard.

 

Imagine playing a Jew in Judea during Roman occupation. The Romans came into your homeland, raided farms, killed your people, and now they forbid you from practicing your religion openly and want you to convert to their heathen gods. (Let's all assume the Romans did that and ignore how bad I am at history.)

Among your people, the Romans are seen as evil. You know there are groups in the underground that try to free the country. But for whatever reason, you'd rather join the Romans and help them. So you betray these conspirators: you lead the Romans to them, tell them who the leader is. The conspirators are massacred, the leader is taken as a prisoner. Later, you are in charge of torturing him (the Romans want to see if you're really on their side or something). To prove that you want to be on their side, you go completely overboard with the torture, you get every last bit of information out of the prisoner and then you leave him to die.

The Romans are pleased, and this is just the beginning. You quickly rise in their ranks and eventually you become the Prefect of Judea.

 

Nevermind your motivations. Nevermind morality, ethical dilemmas and all that stuff. 90% of Judea's population would see you as an evil character. You'd be the villain. To them, it may even look like you're being gratuitously evil.

The important question for the OP in this scenario is: When I betray the conspirators, is my only dialogue option when giving a reason for it that "I've always wanted to watch a person die with their guts hanging out of their belly" or are there dialogue options like "Forgive me God, I know it seems horrible, but it's for the best of my beloved Judea" and "I'm only doing this because I like aqueducts and hospitals"?

These different motivations don't change the general opinion about you as an evil villain. They might change the minds of certain key characters and provide a more interesting storyline for you, but all in all it's still the "evil path" you're taking.

 

 

 

 

In regards to evil "not fitting in with the storyline", I'll have to ask you to be a bit more specific. I am also curious for examples in which games do not reward evil "well enough"; do you think there should be more materialistic rewards, or should it be more "rewarding" in non-material aspects?

 

Something that seemed obvious to you why? Perhaps due to some nonmoral motivation that wasn't anticipated?

 

I'd also tend to believe that it's important to demonstrate the validity of complaints before they are addressed...

 

"Where the bad guys are coming from"... in other words, what motivates them, correct? And if these characters wouldn't call themselves evil, then really why should we go about lobbying for similar characters by labeling our target as "evil"?

 

I hope I've answered the latter question with the Judea example.

As for the others: Seems like you overlooked the part in my last post where I explained that I don't know if these complaints are true, don't care if they're true and basically just provided a service to the discussion by summarizing them so that we may talk about their implications for Project Eternity. They're common complaints, that's what I know. I've had these complaints myself for certain games, that's what I know as well.

 

 

 

 

As far as altruism/self-interest goes, I think it's notable for being a case in which a clear moral trend exists, and that is also commonplace in everyday experience (unlike the issue of killing for fun). When there actually isn't any clear moral contrast, in some ways it ceases to be an ethical question in that moral motivations aren't what decide the issue; rather, even though the question is about morality in such cases, the answer has more to do with one's abstract metaethical views than it demonstrates the moral character of the person in question. That doesn't mean these scenarios aren't fun, but I don't necessarily consider them true moral dilemmas as much as philosophical dilemmas, unless I'm misunderstanding what you mean.

 

Actually, I don't think it's important whether they're moral or ethical or metaethical. What's important is that the player sometimes finds himself in interesting dilemmas. The whole philosophical stuff under the surface should become important when players discuss about what they did in that situation afterwards. ("You chose to kill X? But he was your friend! How immoral!" "Well if I hadn't, a whole village would've burned down! How unethical!" etc.)

 

The classical utiliarian dilemma is killing one person for the sake of saving 100 people. Which one is the ethically correct choice? Utilitarians answer: That which maximizes happiness and minimizes suffering, so you should kill the one person for the greater good. But, well, if it only were that simple. The question is always interesting, and it is never easy, because it's an ethical dilemma, one where neither of the choices makes you a "good" person.

 

The important point is, however, that these dilemmas are very ethical while not having a "moral contrast", as you say. It didn't cease to be ethical, it became ethical. Anyone can follow a moral code, but choosing one side in a dilemma such as this one is the kind of thing that defines you. So I would really like to see some of these dilemmas in the game.

 

 

Aaaand I just realized that your avatar most likely tricked me into talking about Judea.

Edited by Fearabbit
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