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Evil - how far should PE go?


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BG2 had some credible evil options. Take, for example, Trademeet. If, like me, you find druids the most annoying character class ever, then poisoning their precious well and slaying them all for a bounty (from an agreeably evil halfling representative from the Faerun branch of BP) is very satisfying. There's also a sort of logic to it. For neutral characters it's not even that evil.

 

OTOH you can be good and get rid of the evil druids and restore the po-faced birkenstock wearers (if that's your bag).

 

The folks of Trademeet are happy either way, but there are still some consequences for you as the PC (for example, you can lose Jaheira and her whole quest arc).

 

You also get a smaller reward, lose access to the follow-up quest in the graveyard, don't get to see the town put up statues of you and your party on the town fountain, and otherwise get treated like an all-around heel. BG2 is one of the worst implementations of an 'evil' path ever, with a very large proportion of the choices amounting to 'do the good thing for a massive reward or do the evil thing and shoot yourself in the foot.'  

 

Newsflash, Bioware: outside of a minority of sadists, people are tempted to do the wrong thing primarily because evil can be very profitable, not because being a douche is a reward in and of itself. If meth dealers earned the equivalent of a McDonald's salary, while charity workers earned millions, we would see a drastic drop in meth dealers and a massive increase in charity workers. Doing the right thing is only a meaningful commentary on a character's integrity and morality if doing the right thing is often hard and unrewarding, not if it pays off massively over and over again in comparison to the more ruthless options. 

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Newsflash, Bioware: outside of a minority of sadists, people are tempted to do the wrong thing primarily because evil can be very profitable, not because being a douche is a reward in and of itself. If meth dealers earned the equivalent of a McDonald's salary, while charity workers earned millions, we would see a drastic drop in meth dealers and a massive increase in charity workers. Doing the right thing is only a meaningful commentary on a character's integrity and morality if doing the right thing is often hard and unrewarding, not if it pays off massively over and over again in comparison to the more ruthless options. 

 

I think you are wrong about that, most do it is simply because it's faster and because they get bored of the doing good stuff/want to try the evil playthrough. There is a reason why every game offers a "evil" choice, the only problem is that not every game makes it interesting.

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Newsflash, Bioware: outside of a minority of sadists, people are tempted to do the wrong thing primarily because evil can be very profitable, not because being a douche is a reward in and of itself. If meth dealers earned the equivalent of a McDonald's salary, while charity workers earned millions, we would see a drastic drop in meth dealers and a massive increase in charity workers. Doing the right thing is only a meaningful commentary on a character's integrity and morality if doing the right thing is often hard and unrewarding, not if it pays off massively over and over again in comparison to the more ruthless options. 

 

I think you are wrong about that, most do it is simply because it's faster and because they get bored of the doing good stuff/want to try the evil playthrough. There is a reason why every game offers a "evil" choice, the only problem is that not every game makes it interesting.

 

 

He's making a point about behavior considered to be evil in real life, not in games, and suggesting that game designers should offer a similar incentive structure to that of real life in order to provoke people into taking evil options in-game.

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BG2 had some credible evil options. Take, for example, Trademeet. If, like me, you find druids the most annoying character class ever, then poisoning their precious well and slaying them all for a bounty (from an agreeably evil halfling representative from the Faerun branch of BP) is very satisfying. There's also a sort of logic to it. For neutral characters it's not even that evil.

 

OTOH you can be good and get rid of the evil druids and restore the po-faced birkenstock wearers (if that's your bag).

 

The folks of Trademeet are happy either way, but there are still some consequences for you as the PC (for example, you can lose Jaheira and her whole quest arc).

 

You also get a smaller reward, lose access to the follow-up quest in the graveyard, don't get to see the town put up statues of you and your party on the town fountain, and otherwise get treated like an all-around heel. BG2 is one of the worst implementations of an 'evil' path ever, with a very large proportion of the choices amounting to 'do the good thing for a massive reward or do the evil thing and shoot yourself in the foot.'  

 

Newsflash, Bioware: outside of a minority of sadists, people are tempted to do the wrong thing primarily because evil can be very profitable, not because being a douche is a reward in and of itself. If meth dealers earned the equivalent of a McDonald's salary, while charity workers earned millions, we would see a drastic drop in meth dealers and a massive increase in charity workers. Doing the right thing is only a meaningful commentary on a character's integrity and morality if doing the right thing is often hard and unrewarding, not if it pays off massively over and over again in comparison to the more ruthless options. 

 

Well you know. They don't really need to make evil just as viable as good. As long as it's fun and interesting then it's fine. 

. Well I was involved anyway. The dude who can't dance. 
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I think that RPGs that have unkillable NPC's feel plastic and fake. The game can always tell the player if they triggered a fail-state by killing an essential NPC, Morrowind-style, or the game could have no essential NPC's at all, and simply make the end-game something like "get the water chip from the Master".

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I think that RPGs that have unkillable NPC's feel plastic and fake. The game can always tell the player if they triggered a fail-state by killing an essential NPC, Morrowind-style, or the game could have no essential NPC's at all, and simply make the end-game something like "get the water chip from the Master".

I will defend the use of unkillable NPCs on Skyrim because of the dragon/vampire attacks, it would be annoying if you were cut from the game through no actions of your own.

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

 

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

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Newsflash, Bioware: outside of a minority of sadists, people are tempted to do the wrong thing primarily because evil can be very profitable, not because being a douche is a reward in and of itself. If meth dealers earned the equivalent of a McDonald's salary, while charity workers earned millions, we would see a drastic drop in meth dealers and a massive increase in charity workers. Doing the right thing is only a meaningful commentary on a character's integrity and morality if doing the right thing is often hard and unrewarding, not if it pays off massively over and over again in comparison to the more ruthless options. 

 

I think you are wrong about that, most do it is simply because it's faster and because they get bored of the doing good stuff/want to try the evil playthrough. There is a reason why every game offers a "evil" choice, the only problem is that not every game makes it interesting.

 

 

I'm talking real life, not video games. I'm sure there will be plenty of opportunities for Stupid Evil in P:E, being a douche just for the sake of it even if it amounts to shooting yourself in the foot, as that seems the default kind of evil for most CRPGs. And I'm sure plenty of people will have fun with that. 

 

What makes evil interesting, however, is when it's tempting even for people not indulging their sadistic streak. Have the player seriously miss out on something really good for not being tempted into doing something monstrous. Or have the player shunned and hated for doing the right thing. Mix it up a little and all of a sudden moral choice gets interesting again rather than an endless series of 'kick the dog and be hated or pet the dog and be loved' decisions. 

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You can't defend it. Unkillable NPC's fundamentally destroy world-building. Everything is static and unbelievable when everyone can't die.

That's a pretty definitive statement.

 

Anyone who disagrees with that is wrong then?

. Well I was involved anyway. The dude who can't dance. 
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What makes evil interesting, however, is when it's tempting even for people not indulging their sadistic streak. Have the player seriously miss out on something really good for not being tempted into doing something monstrous. Or have the player shunned and hated for doing the right thing. Mix it up a little and all of a sudden moral choice gets interesting again rather than an endless series of 'kick the dog and be hated or pet the dog and be loved' decisions. 

 

Damn, you wrote the post I was planning to. Well, mostly. Just one thing to add.

 

How actions are viewed should depend on context, such that an intelligent and pragmatic player should always be able to figure out the "smart" choice out of "good" and "evil" options. Take the old "accept reward or politely refuse" schtick. A poor peasant would view this as a kind deed, and the peasantry would love you for it... for what little that's worth. An idealistic nobleman might give you a greater reward than the offered gold. A wealthy merchant might file you under "sucker," and take advantage of your generosity by manipulating you into eliminating rivals for free with sad, half-true stories. And a foreign warrior, not used to the local culture, might read the refusal of the reward as an insult.

Edited by KillerClowns
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Aspiring author, beer connoisseur, and general purpose wiseguy

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I'm talking real life, not video games. I'm sure there will be plenty of opportunities for Stupid Evil in P:E, being a douche just for the sake of it even if it amounts to shooting yourself in the foot, as that seems the default kind of evil for most CRPGs. And I'm sure plenty of people will have fun with that. 

 

What makes evil interesting, however, is when it's tempting even for people not indulging their sadistic streak. Have the player seriously miss out on something really good for not being tempted into doing something monstrous. Or have the player shunned and hated for doing the right thing. Mix it up a little and all of a sudden moral choice gets interesting again rather than an endless series of 'kick the dog and be hated or pet the dog and be loved' decisions. 

 

My bad, I misunderstood you.

Edited by Sarex
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I'm kind of between Death Machine and Sarex. I find evil play-throughs in BG games are more difficult and the path less travelled, which has its own appeal.

 

I've done evil BG playthroughs and that's usually how I approach it. Evil playthroughs also get a solid advantage NPC-wise: Edwin, Viconia, Korgan and Sarevok are the best NPCs in the game for their respective classes. 

 

An evil playthrough still very much feels forced, though. You're still considered the 'Heroes of the Sword Coast', no matter what you do. When BG2 starts, Jaheira will still recount your heroic actions righting wrongs and doing good from her cell, even if your behavior in BG1 was completely the opposite. If your reputation plunges too low, the game becomes unplayable as you end up endlessly harassed by Flaming Fist or Amnish guards, who turn EVERY neutral NPC on the map hostile. 

 

Punishing the character for being cruel is perfectly natural, and in fact not having serious consequences and a whole lot of people ostracizing you for being a monster would be unrealistic. But the punishments must feel organic to the game and not a punitive decision by the designers that evil players should be discouraged through crap rewards and the game being unplayable. 

Edited by Death Machine Miyagi
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You can't defend it. Unkillable NPC's fundamentally destroy world-building. Everything is static and unbelievable when everyone can't die.

 

Killable npc don't make world less static if world don't react people dying. So if you don't have resources to make world react to civilian slaughter you probably should not make it be possible in the game, because then there is at least some logic how game world works and reacts. Meaning less slaughter that don't have any impact in the world is in my opinion much worse than npc that don't die, because unkillable characters only take away player's choice in somethings (which isn't ideal in rpgs but reality but sad reality where we live), where world that don't react your actions is just dull and usually also very unbelievable.

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So while adding the writing and coding to be able to rape random NPCs seems like a waste of limited resources to me, making innocent villagers (of any age) immortal would only serve to break the immersion (and also use up extra coding time).

 

Making  killable npc to unkillable is so trivial operation that you can't even say it takes coding time as you can do it with bool variable and simple check function. And modern game engines features with all their fancy ready-made character system usually have such feature and much more variety giving systems already build in.

 

But it will take lots of writing time to make world to react you random innocent villagers killings and without such reactions your immersion would probably break as well, even with ability to kill innocents, as it would feel quite hollow if game world don't react any way in your psychotic rampage.

 

Fair point - I think BG did it ok in this regard - simply have all the witnesses turn hostile (and enter panic mode) and then you can't get them to stop for a chat about anything.  If their cries also call the guard then job's done as far as immersion is concerned.

 

Better would be for the guards to show up and not immediately know who's to blame (if there were any enemies still standing (and your local reputation didn't suck) you could talk the guards into blaming them).  That might not be coming in P:E, just an general idea.

 

I'd still like reputation to be non-universal and not to go down if there are no witnesses left alive.

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You can't defend it. Unkillable NPC's fundamentally destroy world-building. Everything is static and unbelievable when everyone can't die.

That's a pretty definitive statement.

 

Anyone who disagrees with that is wrong then?

 

I guess all those times I felt gameworlds were believable I was horribly wrong!

 

 

You can't defend it. Unkillable NPC's fundamentally destroy world-building. Everything is static and unbelievable when everyone can't die.

 

Killable npc don't make world less static if world don't react people dying. So if you don't have resources to make world react to civilian slaughter you probably should not make it be possible in the game, because then there is at least some logic how game world works and reacts. Meaning less slaughter that don't have any impact in the world is in my opinion much worse than npc that don't die, because unkillable characters only take away player's choice in somethings (which isn't ideal in rpgs but reality but sad reality where we live), where world that don't react your actions is just dull and usually also very unbelievable.

 

 

Exactly.  Let's try a substitution.

 

Everything is static and unbelievable when everyone can't poop.

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Everything is static and unbelievable when no one can have sex with a tree.

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I think that RPGs that have unkillable NPC's feel plastic and fake. The game can always tell the player if they triggered a fail-state by killing an essential NPC, Morrowind-style, or the game could have no essential NPC's at all, and simply make the end-game something like "get the water chip from the Master".

I will defend the use of unkillable NPCs on Skyrim because of the dragon/vampire attacks, it would be annoying if you were cut from the game through no actions of your own.

 

 

Honestly, that's just bad design.  NPCs should have been unkillable by other NPCs; it sucked to see a town wiped out by a dragon because you was just in the general area.

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I think that PE should go so far as making the game illegal to sell in Australia and Germany and other places with silly laws. No go fiurther, make it illegal in neo-moralistic scandinavia, that once embraced free speech and freedom of expression, but now wants to make illegal anything "bad". I am not being sarcastic btw, I wan't real evil that will shock and horrify people. Then again, I will play the good path (I am a carebear in games as well as real life), so might be I will never see the evil path anyway.

Edited by HansKrSG
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Honestly, that's just bad design.  NPCs should have been unkillable by other NPCs; it sucked to see a town wiped out by a dragon because you was just in the general area.

This was implemented in the game, actually. An NPC in Skyrim can have the Protected flag which means they can't be killed by other NPCs (but they can be killed by the player). Most NPCs don't have it set though and almost all of the ones that do are also Essential, which means the player can't kill them either.

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Let's try a substitution.

 

Everything is static and unbelievable when everyone can't poop.

 

 

There is a large difference between a detail not being present in the game at all and the game breaking integrity of its own rules.

 

There are titles that deal with this differently - they simply make all "good" characters unkillable. But that's something I find extremely lame, though I would understand if it was present in a low-budget game and I wouldn't complain unlike in case of selective immortality.

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Guest Servant of ASMADI

How far should evil paths go? Star ware KOTOR 1&2 had some pretty awesome dark side paths, a little darker would be nice though.

 

And for those who seem squeemish about them, an in game alignment-like(I'm aware of a lack of alignment and love it) system could be established where if a character has been acting generally good the option for torturing the information out of the poor priest doesnt should up, but for the player who just finished slaughtering the last village he came across, it does.

 

Anyways;

-Robbing people is hilarious.
-Massacring whole villages, a given.

-Torcher, grey area for me. Totally okay with it in a game, very useful for both practical purposes and narrative purposes. I wouldn't object but not asking for it.
-Selling party members into slavery, or even owning a slave, fun times.
-Killing kids, Oh please don't make them immortal. The ones in fallout 3 were SO annoying and it took forever to track down a mod that let you kill them. *though putting a slave collars on a couple of them and passing them to the slavers seemed to be okay, and very fun*

-Rape, not for me. Existing in the world, neither here nor there. I don't want an option for it.

 

Am I missing anything?

*This is a list of extremes of course, subtler Intrigue based evils are always welcome.

 

IE: A guy pays you 100GP to kill a bunch orcs, you go to them and tell them if they pay you 150 you'll not only not kill them but tell them where the guy is.  

Edited by Servant of ASMADI
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It's so curious how people view rape on this board. It is logically the lesser of crimes mention here, but everyone is disturbed by it the most. Would be interesting to see the male/female percentages in this thread.

 

In what sense it is any lesser crime than any other mentioned here?

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