Jump to content

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


Recommended Posts

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

 

 

Awwwwwwwwwwww yeahhhhhhhh...

 

*Sigh* Let me try one last time... In your Judea example, the consequences of one's actions might be called evil, which I have not denied. However, it's not a situation that one would likely arrive in if one's intention was to simply play an "evil" character. To play such a complex character, the player would have to have other things in mind, and lobbying for such a path under the black-and-white term "evil" is counter-productive when the player should be considering what those other motivations are and how they could be implemented into the game.

 

It's not that the term "evil" doesn't possibly describe such characters adequately, but using the term in this way is counter-productive, confounding very different kinds of characters and keeping the discussion at the shallowest of levels. As I've tried to make clear, to talk about characters as "evil" has two very different meanings. The game world in your example might provide you feedback in your example that your character (or more acurrately the moral consequences their actions bring about) is evil, but what is of concern to player as they go through the game and play the character is their motivations, among which "evil" itself might not present. Morality is merely an output that the game returns to the player based on their character's actions and decisions, and various character motivations are the kind of input that should be accommodated by the game. The latter is what this discussion should be concerned with.

 

The alternative dialogue options are precisely ones that correspond to other motivations, and the way that these would get added is not by trying to make the evil choice "more complex", but rather thinking about which motivations a character could have than "good" or "evil" themselves, which is the point I'm trying to make. Starting at "evil" and trying to grow more complex from there is like trying to solve the problem backwards.

 

Yes, for broader gameplay purposes any kind of dilemma is satisfactory, but as far as decisions that will impact your character's moral standing are concerned, I think dilemmas in which a character wants to do the right thing and simply doesn't know which choice that corresponds with are much less ideal. Is it really fair to call the player's character immoral if the player has no idea which choice is the moral one, or if they have a different metaethical view about what being moral is (within reason)? Such decisions define a player/character ideologically, not morally, teven if they are indeed decisions about morality, as I said. However, they're not really anything to base a character's moral standing off of, and thus they should be considered separately from more explicitly moral dilemmas.

Edited by mcmanusaur
  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

"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.

Not necessarily: Black and White morality stories and settings are perfectly capable of creating drama and depth, they just do so in a different way. Take LotR for example: Frodo and pals are unquestionably The Good Guys and Sauron and his orc army are unquestionably The Bad Guys. Blandness and shallowness are the products of a bad writer, not a property inherent to black and white morality.

 

EDIT: Haha, yes Elerond, I made a typo.

Edited by Micamo
Link to comment
Share on other sites

 

"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.


Not necessarily: Black and White morality stories and settings are perfectly capable of creating drama and depth, they just do so in a different way. Take LotR for example: Frodo and pals are unquestionably The Bad Guys and Sauron and his orc army are unquestionably The Bad Guys. Blandness and shallowness are the products of a bad writer, not a property inherent to black and white morality.

 

 

So no good guys in the LotR then :)

Edited by Elerond
  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

 

"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.

Not necessarily: Black and White morality stories and settings are perfectly capable of creating drama and depth, they just do so in a different way. Take LotR for example: Frodo and pals are unquestionably The Bad Guys and Sauron and his orc army are unquestionably The Bad Guys. Blandness and shallowness are the products of a bad writer, not a property inherent to black and white morality.

 

I always fount the morality in LotR stupid. Whole cultures of evil people allied with Sauron, the orks were generic chaotic evil etc. Great books, but Tolkien's approach to  moral issues and creating ambigous and complex characters and situations weren't his strong points.

Edited by Malekith
  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

To play such a complex character, the player would have to have other things in mind, and lobbying for such a path under the black-and-white term "evil" is counter-productive when the player should be considering what those other motivations are and how they could be implemented into the game.

 

And I agree that there are semantical difficulties here. I actually said so in my first post directed at you:

 

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.

 

By which I meant exactly what you're saying right now.

 

So we're actually in agreement. The actions your character takes can be labeled "evil" by the world, but the character's motivation shouldn't be "It's because I am evil" and the player shouldn't think about his character's motivation that way either.

 

In the end, the phrasing of the OP wasn't perfect, but I think we've worked out what he meant by it and that it is indeed a good idea to offer the player more complex motivations than just being evil for evil's sake, which is juvenile. (And whatever the player's motivations are when playing his character, when the quests don't accomodate them, then this complex character cannot be played out, so it is something the game has to give to the player, not something that solely depends on the player's intent.)

Edited by Fearabbit
  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

 

"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.

Not necessarily: Black and White morality stories and settings are perfectly capable of creating drama and depth, they just do so in a different way. Take LotR for example: Frodo and pals are unquestionably The Good Guys and Sauron and his orc army are unquestionably The Bad Guys. Blandness and shallowness are the products of a bad writer, not a property inherent to black and white morality.

 

EDIT: Haha, yes Elerond, I made a typo.

 

 

Okay, maybe that's not bad writing if we're feeling generous, but I wouldn't exactly call it "depth". In the morality aspect LOTR is pretty shallow, but it makes up for this in other regards.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Tolkien's writings were pure escapism and not meant to be anything else, and considering his experiences in the trenches their simplicity might have been something of a coping mechanism. Personally I found his work on the sagas and various anglo saxon translations such as Beowulf, to hold far more weight than the Lord of the Rings. The Silmarillion has far more depth and nuance than the Red Book.

  • Like 2

Quite an experience to live in misery isn't it? That's what it is to be married with children.

I've seen things you people can't even imagine. Pearly Kings glittering on the Elephant and Castle, Morris Men dancing 'til the last light of midsummer. I watched Druid fires burning in the ruins of Stonehenge, and Yorkshiremen gurning for prizes. All these things will be lost in time, like alopecia on a skinhead. Time for tiffin.

 

Tea for the teapot!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Tolkien's writings were pure escapism and not meant to be anything else, and considering his experiences in the trenches their simplicity might have been something of a coping mechanism. Personally I found his work on the sagas and various anglo saxon translations such as Beowulf, to hold far more weight than the Lord of the Rings. The Silmarillion has far more depth and nuance than the Red Book.

LotR were children's books. They were considered as much by Tolkien himself. Silmarillion is another matter.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Indeed I agree, but no one reading of the Dead Marshes can escape the parallel being drawn there. I think his writing was affected by his experiences without a doubt, though obviously he was not trying to be allegorical with his noted preference for history.

  • Like 1

Quite an experience to live in misery isn't it? That's what it is to be married with children.

I've seen things you people can't even imagine. Pearly Kings glittering on the Elephant and Castle, Morris Men dancing 'til the last light of midsummer. I watched Druid fires burning in the ruins of Stonehenge, and Yorkshiremen gurning for prizes. All these things will be lost in time, like alopecia on a skinhead. Time for tiffin.

 

Tea for the teapot!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I share the same opinion about Tolkien's work.

I do prefer the occasional dose of pure black and white morality (as long as it doesn't take itself to seriously) It's a release not having to actually think about it and just enjoy it.
Like in Fable when I slaughtered all those town guards that were obviously evil as they tried to arrest me for killing those villagers. If they didn't want to be killed then they shouldn't have asked me why I chased chickens.

  • Like 1
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

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well, the only way you can be the Good Guy/Girl when you kill people for a living, is under the banner of Some Great Good, like being in an army that protects civilians against military invasion (instead of being the aggressor and killing many), or through religion.

 

Which is where the good/evil description comes from in the first place, and it tends to boil down to: if you do something else than we tell you to, you're evil. Culture did the rest.

 

 

So, it's extremely subjective when someone is behaving good or evil, and the breakdown you know is certified Christian. Being an annoying or irritating person can be an asset in may cultures.

Edited by SymbolicFrank
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

I know I'm about to take flak for the game I'm about to reference here, heh, but I think it's good to look at the approach the Mass Effect series took. Within context, here.

 

It wasn't a matter of whether or not you were trying to actively better the galaxy, it was whether or not you were concerned with HOW you bettered the galaxy. If you just wanted to destroy the galaxy or "be evil" and didn't really give a crap about accomplishing anything on par with the main narrative, there wouldn't have even been a game. Like Mcmanusaur said, you pretty much wind up with a sandbox at that point.

 

If there's some person that's gonna kill everyone in a 3-mile radius, hiding in that tavern, the question isn't "Do we stop that guy?". The question is: "Do we figure out a way to make sure as many people as possible, or ANYONE other than ourselves, for that matter, is unharmed while we stop this guy? Or do we simply fireball-splode the whole tavern, dust our hands off, and call it a day?"

 

That's where morality comes into play. Morality is simply a measure (no matter how subjective) of one's motivations. In fact, if you run into a burning building to try to save some children trapped inside, or fight to put out the fire at the risk of your own well-being, and fail to do so, and someone hates you because they think those children should've been saved, they're not actually judging your morality here. Morality is tied to your motivations and decision to fight the fire or not to. Not whether or not the chances of your being able to actually produce a positive outcome or not.

 

The problem with games with a big morality scale isn't that they're rating your morality. It's that they're basing way too many things off of it. Some people should hate that the kids didn't make it, and scorn you for that, despite your intentions and efforts. Some people should admire that you tried. Some people (like maybe the people responsible for the fire) should view your moral choice as annoying and troublesome and hate you for that. Again, they're not hating you because they're trying to be evil and your trying to be good. They're hating you because your motivations and actions are conflicting with their own. These things just HAPPEN to be viewed as good and bad things, via commonly-accepted morality.

 

Heck, you can even intentionally produce "good" outcomes without actually BEING good. You might help the crap out of someone, all to garner their favor so that you can double-cross them. You might save their life. That outcome is objectively "good," in that it's beneficial and desired by them, and by the masses (people want people around who are willing to help them when they might be in need of it, rather than decide they're not worth helping). But, you're not actually actively BEING "good," because you're producing a good outcome for a bad reason. If you told someone why you were helping them -- "Because, I'm totally using you to more easily procure a bunch of treasure, so that I can later stab you in the back, quite literally, and take it all for myself" -- and still saved their life, they wouldn't judge you as a morally "good" person.

 

That's why so many "good" quests in games offer that typical "Oh no, no reward is necessary. Thanks." line. It's not that you can't be good AND accept rewards. It's just that, if you get 1,000 gold for doing something, then how much does that really say about the certainty of your motivations? If someone says "I'll give someone 1,000 gold if they'll run into that burning building and save my babies!", and someone does that, and that was the town scraping together its savings, then did you really do that much good? You produced a good outcome (saved some babies), but at the cost of knowingly impoverishing the town. So, now those babies might die long, starvation-y deaths because the town can't trade anymore for goods and such.

 

So, yes, I think the game needs to stick to focusing on your motivations for doing things, regardless of whether or not absolute good and evil deities are floating up above everyone and blessing/cursing people whom they see fit.

Should we not start with some Ipelagos, or at least some Greater Ipelagos, before tackling a named Arch Ipelago? 6_u

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 That's why so many "good" quests in games offer that typical "Oh no, no reward is necessary. Thanks." line. It's not that you can't be good AND accept rewards.  

 

I'm cool with that, but I hate how the games always prod you into taking that choice.

 

Because it's always something like:

 

- goddamn, I deserve more -> 1500 gp + 250 XP

- thanks for the reward -> 1000gp +500 XP

- Oh, no reward is necessary -> "oh, then at least take this magic sword wotth 2000 gp" + 1000 XP

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

- Oh, no reward is necessary -> "oh, then at least take this magic sword wotth 2000 gp" + 1000 XP

I was thinking of making almost the exact same example in my previous post, haha. So, yes, I definitely agree. :)

  • Like 1

Should we not start with some Ipelagos, or at least some Greater Ipelagos, before tackling a named Arch Ipelago? 6_u

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It would be cool if making "evil" decisions affected your perception.

 

If you act like a power hungry megalomaniac, you could perceive other people/characters as being smaller and more insignificant. The plea of others become more muted while praise heaped at your feet become more salient.

 

If you went around slaughtering and stealing, then you could be desensitized to violence and suffering. Dialogue and descriptions concerning pain and suffer can be worded differently to either be far less detailed or emphasize the glory and macabre beauty in death and destruction to reflect your character's callous merciless mental state.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

It would be cool if making "evil" decisions affected your perception.

 

If you act like a power hungry megalomaniac, you could perceive other people/characters as being smaller and more insignificant. The plea of others become more muted while praise heaped at your feet become more salient.

 

If you went around slaughtering and stealing, then you could be desensitized to violence and suffering. Dialogue and descriptions concerning pain and suffer can be worded differently to either be far less detailed or emphasize the glory and macabre beauty in death and destruction to reflect your character's callous merciless mental state.

That's a very interesting idea, though I wonder how best to communicate to the player which dialogue has been affected by their alignment.

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

Link to comment
Share on other sites

What, the OP doesn't like it when being "evil" in a video game requires you to take a rude tone in a conversation and keep the family jewels you'd just finished retrieving for the widowed woman with 3 small children?

"Console exclusive is such a harsh word." - Darque

"Console exclusive is two words Darque." - Nartwak (in response to Darque's observation)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Although I agree with Lephys, there is a very good recent, real life example about the futility of declaring actions Good or Evil: Bush Jr. and the second Iraqi war.

 

In short: while all of the actions taken seemed to serve a noble goal, to make life better for the people involved, the reality of it is much different. First, it seems that there was a serious gap between the stated motivations (WMD's) and the actual ones (POWER). And, as we have a new and at least as brutal a dictator in Iraq now, just as we had ten years ago, the net result seems to be: hundreds of thousands of civilians killed, and around a million mutilated. And, of course, a lot of destruction and reshuffling of property.

 

So, while the intentions might have seemed to be Good, for most people involved, the result is definitely Very Bad.

 

Then again, as the saying goes: "Kill one and you're a murderer, kill ten and you're a psychopath, kill a million and you're a hero."

 

Don't forget that history is, implicitly, written by the winners.

 

 

So, in a nutshell: the winner is the Good Guy, the loser was the Evil Guy.

Edited by SymbolicFrank
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hmmm... and the unwritten first rule of video games is that the player must win in the end, so that means no evil?

 

 

Well, if I execute anyone who doesn't call me the Great And Glorious Liberator... absolutely.

Good will always triumph in the end. But sometimes that means killing everyone who disagrees with that sentiment.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I enjoy this topic discussion, it's good to see. Hopefully my post is coheerant.

 

I always feel like if I am acting as an evil player, I want the population to react accordingly. That what I do effects the general population. A lot of the evil in games is irrelevant and has no impact at all on the world as a whole. You attack the castle, kill a bunch of guards, and steal the nations treasures, and the storekeeps give the same response as if you are the nicest person on the planet.

 

What I would rather, in what I hope is the OP's desire, is for actions to have an effect. For example I travel and find a village maudared by goblin. I hunt down the lair and instead of getting them to leave (good) I just execute them (evil). If I do the good route everyone is happy-ish. If I do the evil route other goblins hear about the event and make it a point to hold the act against me for the rest of my career, even going so far as to exact vengeance, but the village loves me.

 

If I take posession of a city as their new ruler in an act using the easiest evil path, I want the citizenry to harbor resentment and carry the feelings until i redeem myself with them. Even going so far as to stage a rebellion. If I was evil enough, I would like to see the option to have an all out war and end up losing the city and all the people.

 

I guess in a nutshell... when I play evil characters it is to see the content that I didn't experience because I played the good roll. When I do this, I want something to be there. Much like characters branching in the skills they chose, comming back to try the other branches they missed to experience a different game. Not allowing different approaches to a problem is like only having one class.

 

A well designed evil path for a player adds an amazing amount of replayability to a game.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

You know what's even more interesting to me? Being able to start out as an evil character, and actually roleplay being affected by unfolding events throughout the game in such as way as to come to realize the value of good, or simply a reason to change how you were.

 

And vice versa. To be able to start as a pure-of-heart hero who just wants to save/help the most people, but who falters more and more along the way, to the point of getting to the end and kind of snapping. Deciding there's no point, in the end, of having good intentions, because other things override them, and people will always exist who are just out to screw you over, and have your character end up seizing power rather than destroying it for the good of all.

 

Kind of like Frodo at the end of Lord of the rings, only minus the active effect of the ring.

 

But, yeah, just a whole shift of perspective by the end of the game. A gradual one, of course.

 

Not sure if it fits neatly into P:E, but that's more interesting to me than "can I be an evil **** the whole game or a super-good-guy the whole game?"

 

OR, even a character like Dexter. "I brutally murder people because it's fun, but I'm choosing to make sure I only brutally murder people who deserve to be brutally murdered, even though, technically, according to pure goodness, I simply shouldn't murder."

Should we not start with some Ipelagos, or at least some Greater Ipelagos, before tackling a named Arch Ipelago? 6_u

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The problem of evil (no not that one) is also, that it's never clear what the intention of characters is, and I think this is important to understand when playing evil. It's not necessary for the do-gooders, because everyone (well, most of us anyway) can identify with the sentiments of "good" characters. But it's never clear why evil characters decide to slaughter a whole town. Even for a maniac, "just for fun" is not the only internal monologue that's going on, I'm sure about that.

 

A possible solution to that problem would be flavour text in form of an internal monologue  that shows how the character came to his possible answers.

Elan_song.gif

Link to comment
Share on other sites

OR, even a character like Dexter. "I brutally murder people because it's fun, but I'm choosing to make sure I only brutally murder people who deserve to be brutally murdered, even though, technically, according to pure goodness, I simply shouldn't murder."

expect it from Hollywood to see a show glorifying a homicidal sociopath

Remember: Argue the point, not the person. Remain polite and constructive. Friendly forums have friendly debate. There's no shame in being wrong. If you don't have something to add, don't post for the sake of it. And don't be afraid to post thoughts you are uncertain about, that's what discussion is for.
---
Pet threads, everyone has them. I love imagining Gods, Monsters, Factions and Weapons.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 

expect it from Hollywood to see a show glorifying a homicidal sociopath

 

 

An unfair over simplification. For every sanitized show like Dexter about an evil guy trying not to be evil you have 1000 shows about good people fighting evil. The real offenders are the B movies out there. I can name a dozen, but movies and shows almost never glorify evil, worst case they try to examine it from an artistic prospective that can be taken wrong. If you want to fault Holywood, you can fault them for not putting tallented people on the big screen. XD

 

To me, it all comes down to whether it is an interesting story with a thought provoking, satisfying end... or not.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
×
×
  • Create New...