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What do we know about children?

Children in Project Eternity?  

113 members have voted

  1. 1. What are your views on children in Project Eternity

    • They should exist in the game, and can be harmed
      52
    • They should exist in the game, but cannot be harmed
      10
    • They should exist in the game, can be harmed, and serve a meaningful purpose (companion, etc)
      44
    • Children should not be in the game
      7


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The problem - IMO - with this argument is that it comes back to the arbitraryness of ANY kind of "well this can't happen" in the game.  Take BG2, for example, you can stretch an argument that your main villain didn't kill you initially because he wanted to study you.  There's no reason why he shouldn't have killed you (there were other Bhaalspawn and you were a problem) when you get captured in Spellhold.  Other than that would suck as a game ending.

Unless you're suggesting that everything in the game could conceivably be arbitrary, and that there'd be no problems with that, I don't really see how this "problem with this argument" somehow makes the consequences of arbitrary game design decisions any less of a concern.

 

I mean, are you not suggesting a problem with the seemingly arbitrary nature of his not-killing you early in the game (BG2)? Wouldn't it have been better if he had actually had a reason not to kill you, or if he had simply killed you (insofar as no longer being nonsense, but not insofar as the game ending being good at that point)?

 

Also, if you parallel this with my own example, then whether or not the villain kills you would be equivalent to whether or not people attack you in civilian-populated areas. If the villain kills you, the game is over. If people attack you in civilian-populated areas (namely because they hope to use the vulnerable civilians to your disadvantage), the game isn't over. So, there's not really a good reason, inherently, for that NOT to happen.

 

I would point out, too, that what I'm getting at lies more in the difference between "this doesn't happen in the game" and "this can't happen in the game." How do you really know one from the other?

 

What if the villain of BG2 TRIED to attack you, but failed? You just took no damage, or it said "Invalid target" to him? He just kept casting fireballs at your feet, and nothing happened? You don't think that would be different from his simple lack of attacking you? Maybe he had a reason. Maybe he didn't. It's still probably better, from a story-being-presented-to-a-player standpoint, if the player at least knows (eventually) of SOME good reason for him to not have tried to kill you early when he could have. And, on the other hand... what are the odds of someone simply not attempting to murder you, versus all hostile people in the entire game never ever attempting to attack you while there are civilians around (The "this doesn't happen in the game" scenario, instead of "can't")? Are cities and towns filled with nothing but righteous, infallible people and immortal guards with impenetrable defenses, and only people OUTSIDE of the cities and towns could possibly ever produce a conflict? Man... the rulers in that world sure are sitting safe. :)

Edited by Lephys

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

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I still maintain that if a person truly wants to brutally torture children, he should make them play Superman 64 while eating squid.

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

 

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

 

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

 

"I'm all for killing dogs in film." - algroth

 

"Iselmyr is the one who did GOMAD... Aloth is lactose intolerant" -ShadySands

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I still maintain that if a person truly wants to brutally torture children, he should make them play Superman 64 while eating squid.

I realize you're joking, :), but I'd just like to point out (because a lot of people keep coming back to the "fulfilling player's desires to brutalize children" notion) that this isn't about satisfying players' urges to assault children. It's simply about allowing harm to come to children, at all. Even if you want to force players to be good (because attacking children is so morally despicable to us humans, who comprise the player base), if you line the streets with children, then prevent even the "bad guys" from harming them, then you're preventing the game from even encouraging the OPPOSITE of child-harming (which is the prevention of child-harming).

 

If children just aren't in the game, then so be it. That's a bit weird, a world devoid of children. If children ARE in the game, but are invulnerable, then so be it. When we get to that quest in which some murderer is holding an entire church full of people hostage, I'll just douse it in oil and light it ablaze, because I know the children will be completely unscathed. OR, I'll shout "Little Timmy! Attack him! HE CAN'T HURT YOU! LITERALLY!" through the window. Maybe no one ever takes children hostage or puts them in any danger, whatsoever? Awesome. Just how far are we gonna go here, just to make sure that players who might actually sadistically enjoy virtually attacking virtual children with a little avatar don't get their wish?

 

That's my point. The consequences are worth considering, not simply ignoring. Even if you don't let children be attacked in a game, are you preventing people from WANTING to attack children in the game, from being mentally sadistic? Not at all. It's not as if we're controlling the very idea of child-harming by simply not allowing for it in a video game. There's no option being voted for here where the game lets you play a child-torturing mini-game, or lets you cut a kid's arm off, then pick him up and throw him at his mother while the rest of the village applauds and shouts "ANOTHER! 8D!".


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

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One point was made about having to restrain oneself as a good guy when children are around... I like the idea behind it but how often do we fight in places crowded with innocents anyway? And wouldn't I try to restrain myself for the adult innocents anyway?

I think people give this and their logical reasoning concerning it too much weight. As a normal player you won't ever notice the children or try to interact with them. Because there will be all that awesome stuff to do. You won't fight in crowded places but spend most of your time on adventures.

I'm pretty sure that, throughout history, people have employed the "Ha-hah! You can't attack me without killing all these innocent 'shields' around me, but I couldn't care LESS about all these silly people!" tactic. It's pretty simple logic to baddies. "I'll employ a factor that gives me an advantage."

 

So, I'm not going to say the world HAS to have this in it. But, it seems like a pretty forced thing to just say "Nope... no one in this world, run by fallable humans, could EVER have the means or desire to execute some plan utilizing the innocent populous as counter-attack deterrents."

 

Not to mention, you can't even have any kind of specific scenario in which you need to save an endangered child without:

 

A) Allowing sadists to intentionally allow the child to die OR contributing to its death, OR

 

B) allowing ONLY the enemies to damage the child, and thus rendering the danger of the situation somewhat moot.

 

I'd say a complete lack of conflict in areas populated by innocents, in general, is a larger concern, but the endangered child scenario is just something else to think about.

 

 

I didn't go into this much because mcmanusaur already said exactly what I think on the matter. I have nothing against children coming in harm's way in some dramatic showdown of a quest, where you have to make a difficult moral choice. I think it's a crucial difference whether you (can) just go around and kill them, or whether you have to make a concious decision in a quest.

 

And I wouldn't mind stand-offs in crowded places. That's not what I was arguing against. But I didn't express very clearly what I was thinking of in that post you quoted, and there is a reason for that: My emphasis there really was on the "you'll not notice the lack of this feature".

Which is just a feeling I have - I think that before a game comes out, you can talk all day long about what creates immersion, what ruins it, which features should be in a game and all that. But at the end of the day, many of these features are just very tiny details in the overall experience and they get blown up by our imagination. We think of a game that doesn't exist yet, and we say "how cool would it be if the economy is actually completely realistic, and if I kill that farmer the prices for wheat go up in that village!!". And then the game comes out and we couldn't care less about a small town's wheat prices because we just have these 100 rusty swords from our stash that we want to drop off.

 

And no that's not an argument for anything. It's just something to consider while having this discussion. For me the important question is: What's better, having no children in the game or having children in the game in some way? According to the poll, the majority here wants children. Whether they're killable or not is much less important than that, even if it seems like kind of a big deal in theory (and even if it might cause real world problems for the game or not).

 

Also, being able to slap them is still the best compromise. I mean, going on a "slapping spree" is much more fun than a killing spree anyway.

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I still maintain that if a person truly wants to brutally torture children, he should make them play Superman 64 while eating squid.

I realize you're joking, :), but I'd just like to point out (because a lot of people keep coming back to the "fulfilling player's desires to brutalize children" notion) that this isn't about satisfying players' urges to assault children. It's simply about allowing harm to come to children, at all. Even if you want to force players to be good (because attacking children is so morally despicable to us humans, who comprise the player base), if you line the streets with children, then prevent even the "bad guys" from harming them, then you're preventing the game from even encouraging the OPPOSITE of child-harming (which is the prevention of child-harming).

Again, no one arguing against killable children in game is arguing against a kid being in the game and possibly getting killed (maybe even by the player) as part of a story development or plot point.  We are arguing against the inclusion of randomly killing npc kids who just happen to be there for no other reason than "realistically there would be kids around".  No one in the thread has provided one decent viable reason for wanting there to be random npc kids in the game you can kill, probably because there is no decent viable reason for it.

 

So to sum up... you can have child violence in the game... but only if it serves a meaningful purpose to the story.  It should not be included as some sort of retarded random slaughter thing you can do "just because".

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I'm not arguing more or less arbitrary elements, just pointing out they'll always be there regardless.

 

And frankly a better economy would be a higher priority to me than being able to mow down children or punt babies like footballs or whatever passes for dark/edgy/adult/buzzword these days.

In that case, I've taken note, but it doesn't really change anything. Yes some things will always be far from reality or even making sense, but that's not an argument against giving the player more options.

 

A realistic economy at least sounds intriguing, and yes if you're given the choice between that and killable NPC's, there's much to be said for the first option. But the latter is much more easily implemented and balanced, so we don't really have a vs. situation there.

 

BTW, where did you get the idea that killable NPC's are there to make the game "edgy"?

Edited by Sacred_Path

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Well for me having killable npc's is about having a believable world with consequences for your actions. That means rewarding players for discovering the world and consequences for rushing through events unwisely.

 

What if I kill some guy who has a human shield, some poor child. I may kill the bad guy but become a bad guy in the process. Alternatively I let him go but there will be consequences in terms of the evil he will continue to do. Ultimately there should be a third alternative if you have worked hard enough to avoid this situation in the first place. Another example, some kid steals your money and you follow him to this guy who is the mastermind. You end up fighting and killing him, but in the process you have killed this child's provider. The child comes at you with weapon drawn. How will you resolve this? If the child cannot be killed there is no interesting role-playing taking place. If you disarm the child with your dexterity you can find a peaceful resolution i.e. orphanage if your persuasion is good enough. Killing him means you will have next of kin come after you for revenge. Again it should be possible to avoid this scenario.

 

The point for me is that if bad things are not possible, then what value do good actions have in this world. The threat of these bad actions creates tension and interest, the foundation of drama.

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There are boring ol' technical considerations too. Making all NPC's killable drastically complicates scripting. You have to deal with the "player killed plot-essential NPC" situation somehow.

 

In a sandbox game like Morrowind where most of the stuff for you to do isn't connected to the main plot, it kiiiinda makes sense to just pop up a notice saying "by the way, you can't complete the plot now that you whacked Vivec so early on." Because there is still plenty left for the player to do, like I dunno trying to become the head of the Telvanni or something. (Been a while since I played it, you probably can tell.)

 

In a plot-driven one like PE OTOH, that doesn't work, so the remaining options are all kinda crummy. You can just show a "Game over" screen, making killing them defeat conditions. You can bring in Biff the Understudy to stand in for them. If you're feeling really feisty, you can script in some alternative NPC's for the same chokepoints so the game will only end if the player whacks all of them, but that introduces some pretty major QA complications as you'll have to test all the combinations. 

 

None of these strike me as significant improvements over just flagging some of the sorry sods unkillable and getting on with it. It hasn't bothered me overmuch in any similar game until now anyway.

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I have a project. It's a tabletop RPG. It's free. It's a work in progress. Find it here: www.brikoleur.com

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^ I think one good approach is to never make lone, low level hermits plot critical, because those are just asking to be killed. Since we will be(come) nobles in P:E, I wouldn't mind if critical NPC's would either be invulnerable (they aren't commoners anyway) or always have an armed entourage (or be high level magic users) making it realistically impossible to kill them and live.

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Unless you're suggesting that everything in the game could conceivably be arbitrary, and that there'd be no problems with that, I don't really see how this "problem with this argument" somehow makes the consequences of arbitrary game design decisions any less of a concern.

I'm not saying it isn't a concern, what I am saying is that there has to be an acceptance of some arbitrariness at the end of the day and that we shouldn't assume that one arbitrary element is inherently better/worse than others without considering the context of the greater game design.

 

BTW, where did you get the idea that killable NPC's are there to make the game "edgy"?

Based on the discussion I've had with a lot of people (obviously not everyone so perhaps my perspective is skewed).

 

From my perspective, the argument seems to come from roughly two groups, those who feel that the inability to not have friendly fire is unrealistic and believe that any hostile/non-hostile/friendly target should be considered, for tactical purposes, when throwing around area effect attacks or line of sight attacks.

 

And then there are the other group, who seem to show up and say, more or less, "OMG, I got to chunkify the brats! This game is 1337! Its sooooo realistic that I can hack and maim all the kids!". This group is, IMO, not that dissimilar to the group that thinks "romance" in games means you should be able to have sex with your sister (like some on the Bio boards when Bethany was announced in DA2) or that slave ownership should be in the game so their PC can own slaves, rape them and kill their inevitable offspring.

 

Its the latter group that I feel see these elements as "edgy" thus desirable in all games.

Edited by Amentep

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Jesus, Amentep. Is that stuff for real? Maybe we gamers deserve our reputation as juvenile sociopaths.

Yeah, sadly, it is.  Fortunately no one has sunk quite that low on these forums.  ... ... Yet.

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Hypocrites strike again with their twisted logic.

 

I have a good feeling that Obsidian wont mess this up due to PC nonsene and will make immersive and realistic game.

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BTW, where did you get the idea that killable NPC's are there to make the game "edgy"?

Based on the discussion I've had with a lot of people (obviously not everyone so perhaps my perspective is skewed).

 

From my perspective, the argument seems to come from roughly two groups, those who feel that the inability to not have friendly fire is unrealistic and believe that any hostile/non-hostile/friendly target should be considered, for tactical purposes, when throwing around area effect attacks or line of sight attacks.

 

And then there are the other group, who seem to show up and say, more or less, "OMG, I got to chunkify the brats! This game is 1337! Its sooooo realistic that I can hack and maim all the kids!". This group is, IMO, not that dissimilar to the group that thinks "romance" in games means you should be able to have sex with your sister (like some on the Bio boards when Bethany was announced in DA2) or that slave ownership should be in the game so their PC can own slaves, rape them and kill their inevitable offspring.

 

Its the latter group that I feel see these elements as "edgy" thus desirable in all games.

 

I can't speak for THE INTERNET™, but for me, only the first of your points applies somewhat. NPC's being immune to friendly fire is indeed somewhat irritating, and I never played IE games on the default difficulty settting even though that prevented friendly fire only for your own characters IIRC.

 

I think the first game where I even attempted to harm an NPC was Ultima VII. Everything was so interactive, and my childish self soon chased down chickens and cows to try and skewer them, and amazingly enough, I could. Only then did I even think of actually harming one of those friendly quest givers, and was quite elated when I could, even though it usually ended with you getting smacked around by telepathic, teleporting town guards (not cool). It's not like I ever felt the need to go on a rampage in UVII, conversing with characters was much too interesting for me to wish them dead. It was just a good feeling that in this interactive and (for my 12 year old self) convincing virtual world, people could die when they were hit by a sword. Me going out to slay dragons and quest for their continued well-being wouldn't really have made sense otherwise, y'know?

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Well I suppose there's something to the simulationist aspects; I know I appreciated being able to kill Vulpes after he explained why he killed everyone in the town with the lottery in FONV and pretty much said "if you don't like it, kill me". 

 

One of the rare instances I ever intentionally started a fight with a non-hostile NPC in a game, but very fitting, though I can't say the game would have not worked for me if I didn't have that choice (particularly if he didn't have the line paraphrased above).

 

 

Jesus, Amentep. Is that stuff for real? Maybe we gamers deserve our reputation as juvenile sociopaths.

 

Yeah, sadly, it is.  Fortunately no one has sunk quite that low on these forums.  ... ... Yet.

 

Yeah, I've seen all those comments made on message boards - enough times and with enough conviction to believe the people saying it were serious.

Edited by Amentep

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Well I suppose there's something to the simulationist aspects; I know I appreciated being able to kill Vulpes after he explained why he killed everyone in the town with the lottery in FONV and pretty much said "if you don't like it, kill me". 

 

One of the rare instances I ever intentionally started a fight with a non-hostile NPC in a game, but very fitting, though I can't say the game would have not worked for me if I didn't have that choice (particularly if he didn't have the line paraphrased above).

 

On the same subject, I've rarely had a game of Fallout: New Vegas where I made it to Caesar's fort and could restrain myself from murdering every legionnaire in sight. Seeing slaves and soldiers dying slowly from crucifixion, slave women forced to carry huge loads on their backs, meeting a slave who outright tells you that sexual assault is pretty much a given for any female slave who isn't too old or too young (and sometimes that's no protection, either), and the cherry on the top of the entire moral revulsion sundae is Melody, a little enslaved girl who asks you to get her teddy bear back and who can expect a future, if not a present reality, of constant rape and physical abuse for the rest of her life.

 

You can rip her teddy bear to pieces in front of her eyes, incidentally. You can subject her to such severe emotional abuse for the sake of a minor bump in Legion fame or just for sheer sadistic giggles, then go on to help the Legion rape and murder their way across the Mojave, creating countless more slaves just like her, doomed to a life of suffering and fear.

 

But you can't directly kill her or anything. I mean, that would be psychopathic.

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Since I always shot Vulpes at Nipton(?), I always had the Legion as a hated faction.  Never played a game to side with the Legion, so I never saw that quest.

 

Kinda glad I didn't.

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Well I suppose there's something to the simulationist aspects; I know I appreciated being able to kill Vulpes after he explained why he killed everyone in the town with the lottery in FONV and pretty much said "if you don't like it, kill me".

And not just that, there are gamist purposes, too. Killing people is an easy way to manipulate faction ratings, if the game allows it.

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I really hated BG's "Get too evil donate to a church, get too good whack a villager" method of things.

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@Amentep:

 

All I'm saying is, arbitrarity would ideally be taken down to zero (as if by Captain Planet, or... Captain Purpose? :) ). I'm not even worried with comparing one specific arbitrarily missing thing to another.

 

@Fearrabbit and Karkarov:

 

For what it's worth, I honestly don't think there's any reason for being able to "randomly" kill children, either. Or non-children, for that matter. Just as with the arbitrarity Amentep and I were mulling over, I think there's no actual point in worrying about the ability to kill children for no reason at all. It's pretty much going to result in what is effectively a game over. Everyone will hate you at that point. Even the main quest people should. Unless you literally kill every single person who witnessed anything at all... even then, there's going to be a big investigation, etc. That's too big of a thing in the eyes of the rest of society. *shrug*. Even if you somehow do it elaborately and get away with it, it serves pretty much no purpose.

 

The only remaining issue I'm pondering is simply "How do you let players kill children non-randomly and not have the same situation in a smaller dose?" In other words, if you have a specific, story-supporting quest/scenario in which a child can be harmed, unless you still magically prevent the player's fireballs and such from producing any harm to the child, you're STILL allowing the player to kill that child "for no reason." In other words, if we're just assuming "well, we're not worried about letting you arbitrarily kill children," then how is intentionally killing that in-harm's-way child any less arbitrary? And, if the player is PREVENTED from harming that child in any way, then does the scenario not suffer? Again, if you can burn the entire building to the ground, all you're going to kill is the bad guys, why would you ever worry about doing anything less than burn the whole place to the ground, and why would the bad guys even worry with specifically targeting an area populated by invincible innocents in the first place?

 

Sure, THEY (baddies) could still attack innocents, and you could still stop them, but, that just narrows the possibility range by a ton, seemingly only because of the concern of ever allowing the player to harm children.

 

Does that make sense? I would like people's thoughts on that. I'm not trying to say "No, see, all the stuff we just said before, and whatever you were arguing for? I'm saying the complete opposite." No, it's just a further concern, is all. With the very same issue. Just something I feel is worth considering, and am interested in hearing more than just what's floating around in my own head about this.


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

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I really hated BG's "Get too evil donate to a church, get too good whack a villager" method of things.

Seems more of a problem with the alignment system. In a reputation system, donating gold at a church would probably not result in a rise in status, except with that church ;)

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Since I always shot Vulpes at Nipton(?), I always had the Legion as a hated faction.  Never played a game to side with the Legion, so I never saw that quest.

 

Kinda glad I didn't.

 

It's worth going to the Fort when Caesar offers amnesty no matter what faction you support, IMHO.

 

Especially as a female courier. The guy who runs the arena won't let a female courier fight there. Tells you to "know your place, woman." The female slave I mentioned earlier also tells you she overheard some of the legionnaires talking about "trying you out", very clearly not in the context of a fight.

 

There's hardly a killing spree in gaming that is more satisfying and ironic than what follows a female courier paying a visit to Caesar's Fort. 

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So to sum up... you can have child violence in the game... but only if it serves a meaningful purpose to the story.  It should not be included as some sort of retarded random slaughter thing you can do "just because".

 

 

To me that's fine, if you also can't "retarded random slaughter" the other NPCs either.

 

If the game allows you to just walk up to NPC Joe and blast him and his neighbours off the face of the planet like a medieval GTA but your swords spells and bullets just bounce off Little Joey like he was Superman then that's just rubbish. That kind of inconsistancy isn't about creating a meaningful narrative experience or any of that such, that's pure moralising and/or arse-covering.

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I generally see it as a collateral damage factor.

 

Like if they get trapped in an AoE in a crowded room or they're prisoners and you're trying to free them or maybe they pick pocket you and you decide to be a l'il bit unreasonable about it...  I mean, I can think of lots of scenarios in which the player kills the kid NPC-- but what about NPCs killing the kids!?

 

In Skyrim if a dragon hoses down a child: nothing, nada, zilch.  You don't watch in horror as you fail to save their young life.  That makes them emotional deadweights good only for bitching and moaning and making people go make mods to let others kill them because they're so annoying.

 

I say the game was funded by people who put their money where their mouth was about faith in these devs; is it too much more of a stretch to hope these people will only execute sensitive points in the game sensibly?  Obviously we all have our own sensibilities, but ****, who's taking Les Mis down for kids getting killed?  Nobody.  It adds emotional impact the way games use the death of love interests, mentors, and companions-- the difference is games are much more trapped by the tropes that are permissible and it's become a creative padded room.  

 

If the fans cry boo before hearing Obby out I think it'll dampen the vibes of creativity; even if not very much, I really would hate to see that happen to PE.  So whatever our view generally on the subject, pretty much all sides with at least a valid argument for theirs being represented in this very thread, can we at least come to a consensus that the guys making this game will handle it well however it turns out?

 

Hopefully.

 

Anywho.

 

~Azrayel


CORSAIR, n. A politician of the seas. ~The Devil's Dictionary

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To me that's fine, if you also can't "retarded random slaughter" the other NPCs either.

 

If the game allows you to just walk up to NPC Joe and blast him and his neighbours off the face of the planet like a medieval GTA but your swords spells and bullets just bounce off Little Joey like he was Superman then that's just rubbish. That kind of inconsistancy isn't about creating a meaningful narrative experience or any of that such, that's pure moralising and/or arse-covering.

 

 

This is kind of how I see it. To me, if they don't want you killing random people, don't let you.

If they enable you to do it and want to make you feel terrible for it, that's fine too.

 

I mean, I dunno. They let you do some pretty dark things. And it's not just random stuff either, but plot stuff.

Obviously, there's limits. There's boundaries. Have dialogue options for racist slurs and anything involving sexual assault is not something to include.

 

But take Skyrim for instance, you can still take part in an elaborate storyline where you murder people,  partly for money but partly also for the sake of murdering them for wierd cultish reasons too. (even if most of the people you kill are kind of pricks anyway)

Take Torment where the worst things you could do weren't anything as base as hacking at NPCs but things like attempting to sell your companions into slavery.

Some people put killing children on the other side of the boundary, as separate from killing adults.

I could say that's valid, sure. I can see where they are coming from.

 

 

I really hated BG's "Get too evil donate to a church, get too good whack a villager" method of things.

I've rarely seen a good morality/karma/whatever system.

Torment was interesting in that, you had options to Lie or Truth as far as, like, roleplaying goes, and some of the evil stuff was more complicated than just stealing or killing.

I liked some of that stuff because... in BG if you ever did something good, you always got a better reward, so there was no way to be evil, but acting good just to manipulate people.

 

BG *was* annoying though. Since like, there was not way to be evil and just as successful as good... and I don't even mean like, really super evil, just, not goodie-two-shoes. In such a way that you didn't have to listen to your evil NPCs whine (and the evil ones were often my favorites). But of course if you got too high you could just turn into the Slayer and knock it down 2... So ehh...

Edited by Dawn Quixotic

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