Epic Mickey Offers No Choice

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Epic Mickey Offers No Choice

Yahtzee wonders why games don't explore the concept of a moral choice properly.

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aaaah *head explodes*

that was pretty interesting, but in all honesty, was anyone expecting boundary pushing human experience art from DISNEY?

actually, it is an interesting question why moral choice isn't being explored more fully by the games industry, considering even just a dual morality can give a moments thought, as limiting as it is.
perhaps its for the same reason Psychonaughts did so poorly (IE if are favorite statistic, straight Caucasian males age 17-35 doesn't understand something, they aren't going to buy it)

Nice article, but somehow it made me think of the Spiderman 3 game which was awful, so shame on you
(The dark suit corrupts you upon use etc...)

I agree that in most cases, decision in Epic Mickey is rather inconsecuential, except because many enemies and bosses are easier to deal with with the "destroy" option, which adds some depth to the system instead of just "being evil for evil's sake".

It's not my granddad who's racist, it's my grandmum. Not that it makes it any better.

Other than that, good read, as per usual.

I'd say that one of the best moral choices I've encountered in gaming was during a playthrough of Bioshock 2. Near the end, I encountered a room full of enemies. The twist was that they weren't attacking me; they were rocking back and forth holding their knees, looking terrified. I was presented with a nasty choice; should I still kill them, and as they are undoubtably enemies, (or better phrased, do I have the right to kill them unprovoked) or should I leave them alone as they haven't attacked me, but potentially risk being assaulted the second I turn my back. I stayed in the room pondering for a solid two minutes, before I decided to let them live.

The more discussion I hear about moral choice systems in games, the more I think it's better to leave them out. When it's done really well it could theoretically make a good game into a great game, but I haven't heard anyone give an example of a really well done moral choice system.

I agree that great games need choices and that those choices should actually make a difference, but I'm not sure that moral choices are the best choices.

As much as Yahtzee will probably hate me for it the best moral choice system I have ever experienced was in Fable III. Most of the choices that game gives you have no right answer and it can be very stressful when you want to do the absolute best thing for everyone and realize that you simply cannot.

Using creation juice would "fix" the monsters and turn them good again with no apparent ill effects. So there was absolutely no reason not to do that.

Yes because turning a giant creature that can fling you half-way across the room into a good guy to deal with the rest of the constantly respawning shock troops throwing thinner at you during the final level while you tear the main villain's vital organs to kingdom fuck is not a good reason. Bet you had real fun at that point in the game, Croshaw.

It's a game about a cartoon mouse with 90 years of history. You shouldn't expect THAT high a level of complexity from it's moral choice system from a game like that. You should expect that kind of quality from a moral choice system in a game with a T or M rating. Which is why Yahtzee should've waited until Infamous 2 or something like that was released to do an Extra Punctuation on this topic.

Also as much as I like some Yahtzee's ideas for game design, I can't help but think some of them, in this case, his ideas on a moral choice system, would take too much programming time and be too big a hassle to accomplish with current technology.

meh, the "moral dilemmas" in games have rarely made me think twice, as the consequences are often pretty straight forward, be nice and people are nice to you, and since i love the idea of living in a world where people are nice to you, greet you and even give you gifts from time to time i always take the nice option, sure if you live a life where that is normal having people randomly trying to murder you may seem nicer.

oh and for the last few questions: Would you give up a miserable but familiar existence for an exciting but unknown one?, no, no i would not.
Would you rescue one baby or five old people? in theory five old people as i like old people and all babies do is cry and ruin shit, but in reality i would pick the baby as it would be allot easier, you can just pick up a baby and maybe even throw it to safety, where as carrying 5 old people would be impossible and they are usually pretty slow.

My father honestly thinks The Legion is the best option in New Vegas.
He is republican.

Both my grandads are dead, but neither of them was racist.
If You want a real moral choice system Yahtzee, try...
*runs off to check extra credits*
Missile Command

And then there are games where both options wind up giving you pretty much the same benefit, which makes the choice itself completely inconsequential.

One of the numerous reasons why I hated inFamous, especially with how ridiculous the ways both "moral" choices end up resulting in the same thing. The only real moral dilemma towards the end of the game has such a cheap bullshit way of giving you the same result no matter what choice you make (an apparently psychic bad guy who always magically knows what you will do and thus plans accordingly to get what he wants every single time) that they might as well have not had a choice at all and just show a cutscene of the bad guy doing what he wanted done directly. Everything about that game pissed me off but holy balls that part REALLY pissed me off.

Better choices are like the one mentioned from Mass Effect, or the one in Mass Effect 2 near the end with the geth. Choices that actually make you stop and think about it, and then once you make up your mind, don't just cop-out and give you the same result either way (screw you inFamous!!!). I also really liked The Pitt DLC for Fallout 3 because it made me stop and think at one point about what I wanted to do. I want more choices like that and less of this "obviously good choice/neutral choice/obviously bad choice" shit that's there just for the sake of the game's karma system. Of course it could be the fault of the way people make their karma systems in the first place that causes so many lame choices, but now I think I'm going to start repeating stuff I heard in Extra Credits before they were calling it Extra Credits, so I'd better stop.

Oh, you got that last question wrong. Coke is not better than Pepsi. And Bionic Commando was a better game for drinking it. :p

I think one thing that's important, and often neglected, is to reinforce choices like this with things that actually matter to the player. Mass Effect did a great job of making me give a shit about the krogans and decisions affecting them. How? By making me give a shit about Wrex. He became my mental symbol for the abstract 'krogan race', floating somewhere off-screen, and any time the issue came up (euthanize the krogan; cure them; brainwash them; what have you) I subconsciously thought, 'Would I do that to Wrex?'

The name of the game is relevance: Using interactive narrative to compound an otherwise-arbitrary decision with emotional weight.

Yahtzee Croshaw:
Would you rescue one baby or five old people?

I read an interesting story about that once actually, you are standing near a switch, there is a train coming in, on one set of rails is fat man, on the other there are 5 people, if you pull the switch the fat man dies, if you don't the 5 people die.

edit: 5am posting isn't good for clarity.

Most people say they would pull the switch, 5 for 1 and all that jazz.

Now same situation, only there is no switch, and the only way to stop the train from hitting the 5 people is to throw the fat man in front of it (just roll with it).

Would you still do it? Most people say no, but morally it's the exact same choice, trading one life for five, you're hands are just a little dirtier.

I'm surprised to see an article that talks about free will lobotomization vs. destruction, and Mass Effect, without mentioning mass effect's extremely well done choice of free will lobotomization vs. destruction. Extra Creditz did a whole episode on that one decision.

Don't worry Yahtzee, We'll get there. Video games using Moral Choices is still quite a new concept, so it needs some time.

Although looking back, the first game that had a good meaningful moral choice system....was Deus Ex right? and that was by Warren Buffet? and epic mickey is by.....I'm gonna stop now :)

I'd say that the best moral choice system was the one seen in "Heavy Rain" (SPOILERS!)At the moment when I was at the end of the trial where you have to kill a person, I really had to think. Because there was no answer to that question, would you end a human life which is worth as much as any other to save your son? When I finally made up my mind and shot him, I had to look away from the screen because I felt like horrendous monster. That's the kind of moral choice I like, the kind that actually makes feel bad for taking the "evil" alternative.

@mjc0961: "inFAMOUS" is one of my favorite games of all time, the thing that didn't work in it was mainly that you were required to choose a path and stick to it, there were moments where I really wondered (again SPOILERS!) if I should save Trish from her dead, or rather save the doctors, which would in turn, save a lot of lives, or at the time where I found a guy that wouldn't let me through a gate until I reunited him with his wife, should I tell him that his wife is dead, and let him live in suffering, or should I put him out of his misery. And while, yes some choices ended up in the same thing, they felt meaningful at the time, and I hope these two issues are solved by the time "inFAMOUS 2" comes out (Im so preordering the shit out of that game!)

The best moral choice system is one that isn't constantly in your face.

As soon as you're conscience of the fact that you're making moral choices in a game instead of your own choices, you'll start to comform to the way the game wants you to play it.

I'll sound like a broken record, but fuck it: Silent Hill 2 has the best moral choice system of any game, because you're never aware of the choices you make. For all you know, you're simply playing a game without choices, untill you receive one of the multiple endings.

viking97:
that was pretty interesting, but in all honesty, was anyone expecting boundary pushing human experience art from DISNEY?

You're right of course, but an in-built tendency to fail is hardly an excuse for failure.

tkioz:

Yahtzee Croshaw:
Would you rescue one baby or five old people?

I read an interesting story about that once actually, you are standing near a switch, there is a train coming in, on one set of rails is fat man, on the other there are 5 people, if you pull the switch the fat man dies, if you don't the 5 people live.

Most people say they would pull the switch, 5 for 1 and all that jazz.

Now same situation, only there is no switch, and the only way to stop the train from hitting the 5 people is to throw the fat man in front of it (just roll with it).

Would you still do it? Most people say no, but morally it's the exact same choice, trading one life for five, you're hands are just a little dirtier.

I think there's a pretty clear right answer to the first version you posted. don't pull the switch. fatty doesn't die and 5 people live.

It's interesting that he brought up Mass Effect, because the second game actually offered a choice rather like the one he wished had made it into Epic Mickey.

The big downside to this is that one option nets you paragon points while the other gains renegade points, effectively telling players what the so called right and wrong choices are. It's too bad, because it's one of those few gray areas in the game, and in dolling out points it cheapens the value.

Personally, I'd like to see a game that has moral choices, but no karma meter. Dragon Age did it pretty well, though companions still had approval meters. "Evil" companions approved of morally ambiguous actions, while "good" characters liked petting puppies and brightening the days of young children. In the end, there was still a method for keeping track of just how big of a dick you were. I'd really like to see a modern game keep the moral choices, lose the meter, and let the consequences speak for themselves.

Actually, Alpha Protocol did something like that. It was one of the few things NOT terribly broken, but since the game tanked so poorly, I'll be surprised if we see any other devs implementing a similar system.

"That one really comes down to the much larger question: is it better to be happy and ignorant, or miserable and have all the answers? If that dichotomy had been the basis of Epic Mickey, it would have been a lot more interesting. You could either spray enemies with Ignorance juice, which sends them into a dream of paradise but in permanent coma, or Answers juice, which gives them full understanding of the universe, but makes them too busy weeping into their cappuccinos to fight."

So basically instead of Epic Mickey Yahtzee would have preferred the game to be EMO Mickey ;-)

Moral choice systems in games are still maturing, but as far as I'm concerned, Bioware has definitely explored this the most effectively. I see a lot of love for Mass Effect in the thread.

Any of you guys play Jade Empire? That was one of my all-time favorites in terms of role-playing/dialog/branching stories, and one of the few games where I could actually stomach playing through the story as the "evil" character. Instead of calling the moral system in the game "good vs evil", it was about two competing philosophies, "open palm vs closed fist" or something like that. Following the way of the Closed Fist often made you a grade A prick, but you were never being evil for evil's sake. The philosophy was all about valuing strength above all other values--let the weak fend for themselves, not out of cruelty, but because the struggle will make them stronger. If you take away their incentive to struggle, you promote weakness. Etc.

While the Bioshock series has thus far had a pretty rudimentary moral choice system--not quite evil for evil's sake, but evil for power's sake, its exploration of the pitfalls of strict individualism or collectivism are way more mature than most of what the gaming medium has had to offer.

tkioz:

Yahtzee Croshaw:
Would you rescue one baby or five old people?

I read an interesting story about that once actually, you are standing near a switch, there is a train coming in, on one set of rails is fat man, on the other there are 5 people, if you pull the switch the fat man dies, if you don't the 5 people live.

Most people say they would pull the switch, 5 for 1 and all that jazz.

Now same situation, only there is no switch, and the only way to stop the train from hitting the 5 people is to throw the fat man in front of it (just roll with it).

Would you still do it? Most people say no, but morally it's the exact same choice, trading one life for five, you're hands are just a little dirtier.

Just how fat is this person that his bulk is capable of halting a speeding locomotive?

And are we getting into a eugenics discussion here? Weed out the fatties?

Actually, I think I'd prefer to see faction approvals, like Daggerfall (Elder Scrolls II) had. E.g., doing action X makes the merchants and guards happy, but pisses off the thieves and nobles, while doing action Y makes the guards and nobles happy, but pisses off the church and merchants, and action Z makes the thieves happy, but pisses everyone else off.

Dragon Age almost pulls this off on a personal level, but assigning numbers to it and letting you bribe past it with gifts makes it more like a dating sim than a real choice system. Like the last Extra Credits video put it, it's a calculation, not a choice.

Speaking of Extra Credits, I think they mentioned the faction approval system on their old YouTube video on Moral Choices.

FarmerMonkey:
Just how fat is this person that his bulk is capable of halting a speeding locomotive?

And are we getting into a eugenics discussion here? Weed out the fatties?

I confess with some shame that I found myself thinking along the same lines.

And who are the five other people? Are these the same five old people in Yahtzee's example? And what is wrong with them that they keep putting themselves in situations like this?

JaymesFogarty:
I'd say that one of the best moral choices I've encountered in gaming was during a playthrough of Bioshock 2. Near the end, I encountered a room full of enemies. The twist was that they weren't attacking me; they were rocking back and forth holding their knees, looking terrified. I was presented with a nasty choice; should I still kill them, and as they are undoubtably enemies, (or better phrased, do I have the right to kill them unprovoked) or should I leave them alone as they haven't attacked me, but potentially risk being assaulted the second I turn my back. I stayed in the room pondering for a solid two minutes, before I decided to let them live.

Yes! I loved that level, and I too let them live. I wish they had done more with including splicers who, if not actively friendly, were at least not actively hostile to the player. It seemed like a bit of a stretch that for every single person in Rapture to go all homicidal, and I always imagined that there may have been still functional communities barricaded into other parts of the city.

I also thought that the confrontation with Stanley Poole in Bioshock 2 was very well done, in terms of moral ambiguity.

Well, Disney aren't Obsidian, Bioware, or Black Isle. They make stuff for kids. Even if that stuff might be absolutely terrible.

ragingasian36:

tkioz:

Yahtzee Croshaw:
Would you rescue one baby or five old people?

I read an interesting story about that once actually, you are standing near a switch, there is a train coming in, on one set of rails is fat man, on the other there are 5 people, if you pull the switch the fat man dies, if you don't the 5 people live.

Most people say they would pull the switch, 5 for 1 and all that jazz.

Now same situation, only there is no switch, and the only way to stop the train from hitting the 5 people is to throw the fat man in front of it (just roll with it).

Would you still do it? Most people say no, but morally it's the exact same choice, trading one life for five, you're hands are just a little dirtier.

I think there's a pretty clear right answer to the first version you posted. don't pull the switch. fatty doesn't die and 5 people live.

He must have wrote it up wrong; it's pull the switch and fatty dies, don't pull the switch and the five die.

Falseprophet:
Actually, I think I'd prefer to see faction approvals, like Daggerfall (Elder Scrolls II) had. E.g., doing action X makes the merchants and guards happy, but pisses off the thieves and nobles, while doing action Y makes the guards and nobles happy, but pisses off the church and merchants, and action Z makes the thieves happy, but pisses everyone else off.

That kinda smells of politics rather than morality, though. They're related but not the same thing.

I think Pepsi is better than Coke...

"Is Coke better than Pepsi? Well, yes, but they both make you fat."
Epic truth :)

high_castle:
Actually, Alpha Protocol did something like that. It was one of the few things NOT terribly broken, but since the game tanked so poorly, I'll be surprised if we see any other devs implementing a similar system.

I was actually just about to mention this. I played through the game twice (I really liked it and could handle the bugs). The first time, I tried the be nice to everyone approach. The story was really full, plot twists and little things along the way. However on my second play through, I was ruthless. If I had an option to kill or piss anyone off I did. The story was so limited. Basically first impressions were everything because no one gave me other details. I wish I had played it the other way around, because it would have been nice to go from a small storyline to a much larger expanded one.

The game was far from perfect, but your choices did matter for the story (mostly with flat out killing people).

BTW, for an interesting take on the whole ethical dilemma thing, there's a cute bit in Jasper Fforde's First Among Sequels -- fifth in his Thursday Next series -- in which Thursday finds herself on a ship where a curious number of things are going terribly wrong. (You may enjoy it more if you read the previous four books first).

ewhac:

FarmerMonkey:
Just how fat is this person that his bulk is capable of halting a speeding locomotive?

And are we getting into a eugenics discussion here? Weed out the fatties?

I confess with some shame that I found myself thinking along the same lines.

And who are the five other people? Are these the same five old people in Yahtzee's example? And what is wrong with them that they keep putting themselves in situations like this?

Furthermore, if this elephantine gentleman has enough mass to stop the speeding locomotive, how in bloody hell am I going to push him onto the tracks to save the five people of ambiguous size, age, and race? I exercise regularly, but I'm not taking HGH or anything. Do I use a bulldozer? Or are the train tracks perhaps on a steep hill, and I just need to nudge Fattie over the crest?

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